‘Disaster preparedness involves changing mindsets’-A A +A
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
DISASTER preparedness enables survivors of calamities to recover more quickly.
This is why having an effective disaster risk reduction and management program is important, said Shelter Cluster coordinator for Cebu Steve Barton during a meeting with local government officials in Cebu.
Mayor Aly Arquillano of San Francisco in Camotes stressed, though, that people’s mindset has to change.
“Ang importante, makombinsir nimo ang hunahuna sa tao kay sila na ang maninguha (Once you’ve convinced the people, they will take the initiative),” said Arquillano, whose town had zero casualty when typhoon Yolanda made landfall in Daanbantayan and Bantayan Island, all in Cebu, on Nov. 8.
Arquillano said that when his brother Alfredo Jr. was mayor of San Francisco, he organized daily activities to instill the importance of disaster preparedness in his constituents.
The program ran for five years, during which residents and the local government identified high-risk areas and evacuation sites.
Former mayor Alfredo Arquillano Jr. is one of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction champions for empowering town residents to prepare for disasters and adapt to climate change.
Mayor Arquillano said the program was implemented through the purok, referring to a cluster of households within the barangay. He said the local government ensured that residents participated in the planning and implementation.
“We instill in them (the importance of undertaking) climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies,” the mayor said in Cebuano.
He said San Franscisco residents were also encouraged to help government and do their share to make the town climate resilient.
Barton said residents by calamity should not be called “victims,” which connotes helplessness.
“We are now focusing on those who need help to recover and in addressing vulnerability,” said Barton.
Shelter Cluster is a global initiative headed by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNCHR).
Barton presented an illustration of how assistance helped Yolanda survivors recover.
The graphic shows how emergency relief aid helped survivors get by from day to day. Survivors start self recovery after undergoing skills training and receiving livelihood assistance, like farming and carpentry tools.
Barton said the cash-for-work or food-for-work programs of the government also helped survivors provide for their own needs.
Barton said, though, that self recovery may be more difficult for the elderly, people with disabilities (PWDs), orphans and poverty-level households.
He said poverty-level households would need help as they would remain dependent on relief assistance two years after a disaster.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 05, 2014.