‘Change in mindset’ vital in disaster preparedness

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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

CHANGING the mindset of the people and considering the erratic weather patterns as the new normal should be part of people’s daily routine, said Xavier University president Fr. Roberto Yap.

He said people should change their perspective regarding disaster response and management because climate change is here to stay.

During the "The Governance of Disaster: The Albay Success" forum at the university’s Little Theater Wednesday, Fr. Yap said “the effects of climate change are upon us—the warm weather becomes warmer while wet weather becomes wetter, this is now the new normal.”


He cited that in the past the city didn’t experience horrible weather disturbances and when tropical storm “Sendong” in 2011 and Typhoon “Pablo” in 2012 struck the city, everyone was in disbelief.

“We should expect more storms and typhoons that could be intense on a regular basis because of climate change,” Yap said.

He urges everyone to look at disaster response in a new perspective.

Disaster response and management used to be an extra thing that people do occasionally—during special times like a disaster, he said.

It is important that disaster risk reduction management (DRRM) should be part of the normal thing people should do and become a mainstream activity in communities, civil societies, and other stakeholders involved.

“It should be part of our regular day-to-day programs in governance and community activities,” Yap said.

He said that DRRM should not be considered as an optional thing to do, instead consider it a challenge to make DRMM part of the people’s daily activity to lower the risks of disasters and heighten management in times of calamities.

Best practices

At the forum, the municipal mayor of Santo Domingo in Albay shared his municipality’s best practices on disaster risk response.

Santo Domingo is the first municipality that conducted a mapping in all their barangays.

“All of our villages are in Global Positioning System (GPS) mapping,” Mayor Herbie Aguas told the forum participants.

With the GPS mapping, the municipality has been made aware of the type of disaster that may strike.

Aguas shared that in Santo Domingo almost all types of threats are present—flood, landslide, volcanic eruption, among others.

He said during disasters they couldn’t fully trust the telecommunication companies so they have to go back to ‘old school’ methods like handheld radios and others.

But when it comes to advisories regarding cancellation of classes, he said they cooperate with a telecommunication company for the advisories to reach the people.

Most importantly, the trainings on disaster risk responses and management have been conducted throughout the year.

Mobilize 4Ps

In Santo Domingo, Aguas said they mobilized the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) because they are the most vulnerable sector considering their economic status.

Santo Domingo provides the 4Ps members jobs that are DRRM-related.

The municipal government also created brochure that contains tips on how to respond during disasters like typhoons, landslides, snake bites, volcanic eruption, blackout, etc.

The brochure is written using the area’s local language, Aguas shared.

During the forum, a memorandum of understanding to enhance the capacity of communities on disaster risk reduction and management was signed by City Mayor Oscar Moreno, Fr. Yap and the key people from the city government.

While the youth in the city vowed to help disseminate information in the communities to enhance DRRM since they have been in the frontline during disasters.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on March 06, 2014.

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