Legarda Wants Antique to be Model for Resilience

Senator "Inday Loren" Legarda, UN Global Champion for Resilience, today said that she wants her home province of Antique to be a model for climate and disaster resilience.

The three-term senator who authored/sponsored the country's eight landmark environmental laws, including the Climate Change Act and the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act, made the statement at the first ever Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) and Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation (CCAM) Summit.

"With each disaster, our people are pushed deeper into poverty. With each disaster, homes and critical infrastructure such as hospitals, schools and bridges are destroyed. With each storm or drought, our poor farmers lose all the fruits of their hard work, the basis of their very subsistence. This is why we must build the resilience of our communities," said Legarda.

"Resilience does not only mean rising immediately after disasters, because what we want is to be resilient enough that natural hazards would not affect our communities," she explained.

Legarda stressed that to effectively build resilience, disaster prevention and preparedness must become a way of life.

The Senator reiterated key lessons that should guide the country and communities towards strengthening disaster risk reduction and management.

First, we must focus on managing the risks rather than managing disasters. Disaster risk management should not be carried out only right before calamities happen. Local government units (LGUs) should be at the forefront of the planning, preparation and execution of the plans to provide an effective "first line of defense" against disaster risks. Funds should be sufficiently allocated. Cooperation among local and national governments, businesses, and the communities is imperative.

Second, we must let science work for our communities. The best solutions are possible only with the guidance of science, which is essential to develop land use plans that are risk sensitive. Accurate scientific data is needed to design practical solutions and communicate the risks to the people because knowing when, where and in what magnitude a typhoon will strike is fundamental to keeping our people prepared.

Third, everyone should be disaster-literate. We need to know and understand the risks. Everybody should be part of the solution and action needs to come from the communities themselves. Early and mandatory evacuation would be useless if the people do not understand the need for such efforts. Raising public awareness should be made to resonate loudly and as far deep into the communities as possible.

Fourth, we must protect our environment and pursue green urban development. We need to go back to the basics: protect our ecosystems and natural buffers such as mangrove forests to mitigate floods, storm surges and other hazards. Design and enforce building standards to address future hazards, not past ones.

Fifth, prepare adequately and engage. While disaster prevention should be the greater focus of our efforts, response preparedness is likewise important to prevent further casualties and reduce losses. Contingency plans are crucial in times of disasters. LGUs must have the political will to implement forced evacuation when called for.

"There are many ways to prevent disasters. We may be vulnerable to natural hazards and the effects of climate change, but we do not have to be helpless. We must be in control, we must be proactive, we must take urgent action," Legarda concluded.

Source: Senate of the Philippines