Published by the Visayan Daily Star Publications, Inc.
|NINFA R. LEONARDIA|
Editor-in-Chief & President
NIDA A. BUENAFE
MAJA P. DELY
ANTONIO L. LEONARDIA|
According to the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction and the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, the Philippines, along with Bangladesh, Vietnam and Indonesia, is one of the four disaster-prone countries in the Asia-Pacific region that have reduced their vulnerability to disasters despite their poverty.
In their joint 134-page Asia-Pacific Disaster Report 2012, the UNISDR and the ESCAP also cited the Philippines as one of the 18 countries in the region that have made disaster risk reduction part of their long-term development plans. It noted that the Philippines, like India, Pakistan and Thailand, has “shown that well-targeted social protection measures are not only affordable, but they can also reduce vulnerability to disasters to a great extent.” Albay Gov. Joey Salceda was also hailed by the report as “one of the global champions of building disaster resilience at the local level.”
The UNISDR also listed Albay province, as well as Makati City and San Francisco town on Camotes Island, Cebu, on its list of 29 model communities worldwide in terms of disaster risk management and reduction. These local governments have been noted for their best practices on a wide range of challenges, including flood management, early warning, earthquake reconstruction and legislation.
The Philippines topped the UNISDR list of countries affected by disasters last year and is still expected to have among the highest annual expected losses due to disasters, followed by Indonesia and Vietnam. And yet the joint UN report praises us for being able to reduce our vulnerability to disasters despite our economy. This shows that if we focus on something, we can still be a model for other more advanced countries to follow. If Albay province, Makati City and San Francisco town can show the world how to minimize risk and how to make their communities resilient from disasters without breaking the bank, then other towns and cities in the country should be able to follow suit and with a little determination and creativity, maybe even take the lead.
The Philippines has to be prepared for all kinds of disasters, not because it wants to be on top of a list, but because people's lives depend on the level of preparation of the government they are counting on to be there for them in time of need. Because, except for being prepared, there is nothing we and our government can do about our geographical location and the natural risks that go with it.*