Tacloban City, 28-29 Jul 2015 | The Climate Change Commission through the RAPID Program capped-off its celebration of the National Disaster Consciousness Month (NDCM) through a two-layer orientation on Community-Based Climate Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (CBC/DRRM) for the 12 selected municipalities on July 21-23; and two selected pilot barangays in Balangiga, Eastern Samar on July 28-29.
“This year’s theme, ‘Pamilya at Pamayanang Handa, Katuwang sa Pag-unlad ng Bansa’”, is rather special because if there are two things that we Filipinos uphold strongly, these are family and the spirit of resilience”, Climate Change Office’s Assistant Secretary Goco said in an interview. “And now we are penetrating not only the municipalities, but also the barangays – where families and individuals play equally critical and important roles.”
The orientations in the municipalities intended to motivate local authorities to participate in CBC/DRRM and climate change adaptation (CCA) initiatives. It was also a means to help RAPID understand the approaches and areas for complementation in its DRRM efforts. Pilot barangay orientations for San Miguel and Cansumangkay, Balangiga, on the other hand, will be processed to determine better approaches to implement the rest of the barangay CBC/DRRM orientations henceforward.
The contents of the orientation for both levels were arranged similarly except for an additional workshop for the barangay representatives: brainstorming on possible on Rapid Results Initiatives (RRI). RRIs are small-scale efforts that RAPID plans to support and monitor one at a time in the coastal barangays after every three months; after which, either new set of RRIs are introduced or the current one is scaled-up.
The program’s strategy promotes a culture of easily recognizable positive change among vulnerable communities, families, and individuals and their involvement toward CCA and DRR. Through easily identifiable positive outcomes, RAPID believes that the RRIs will motivate communities to adapt practices that favors sustainable participative actions and strengthened capacities.
The interactive lectures tackled four important areas including Governance in CBC/DRRM; Understanding the science behind climate change, CCA, and their integration into CBC/DRRM; CBC/DRRM in the local development process; and Identifying leaders, key stakeholders and resources for implementing CBC/DRRM.
“We strive to create resilient communities as we work closely with our partner LGUs. In the long run, we want to make sure that the NDCM is not just a month-long celebration, but a sustained way of life”, said Anne Orquiza of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade who was one of the participants.
Dr. Dixon Yasay of the Governance and Leadership Institute at Xavier University, Cagayan de Oro city explained the significance of transparency and devising strategies to harness the “power of the barangays”. He said that the barangays have the ultimate influence among local constituents because of their direct contact with them. “A successful DRRM strategy shouldn’t involve a lot of spending. Quite the opposite, empowered communities and families shouldn’t at all ask for help from their barangay officials because they know and already have what they should prepare for in case of disasters” he added.
But this does not mean that the municipalities have lesser roles. In fact the importance of political will among local chief executives in executing CBC/DRRM was stressed throughout the lectures and workshops during the orientation. Other issues came up, as well, such as the challenges in the municipal scenario: Judarico Sabit, Marabut, Samar Municipal Planning and Development Officer, who is also the acting Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Officer and Environmental and Natural Resources Officer of Marabut, Samar explained that municipal personnel are sometimes assigned to handle more than one position, resulting to an overflow of workload and challenges in priorities.
Rodito De Gorio, Barangay Chairman of San Miguel, Balangiga, on the other hand, acknowledged that capacity development is exactly what they needed, and explained that normal residents don’t usually know the basics of climate change, their apparent involvement in it, and its impact to their health and livelihood. He also emphasized the need of barangay leaders to be empowered in terms of persuading and effectively mobilizing residents in times of disasters, especially that the typhoon season is slowly approaching. “Having a plan is always good, but it’s in the implementation that our leadership is evaluated. We hope that the support does not end here.”
And it does not. The NDCM celebration may have ended in July but it doesn’t mean that interventions in the municipalities and barangays will slow down. Quite the contrary, in fact, as barangay CBC/DRRM orientations will also continue all the way through the end of September.
Along with the orientations, natural resource assessments for Water Quality, Remote Sensing Geographic Information Systems, Agriculture and Soil, Forest Resources, Marine (corals and fishes), and Marine Protected Areas (sea grass, and mangroves) will disperse in the RAPID municipalities in the following months. Partners from PAGASA, the University of the Philippines, and Visayas State University are also conducting field surveys and validation of the methodology for flood modelling and hazard maps.
The RAPID Program is being implemented by the Climate Change Commission as a component of Project Climate Twin Phoenix, in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme and the Australian Government. RAPID supports the long-term recovery of 12 local government units which were affected by Typhoon Haiyan, namely, Tacloban City, Palo, Tanauan, Tolosa, Dulag, Mayorga, MacArthur, Abuyog, Basey, Marabut, Lawaan, and Balangiga by strengthening capacities of communities to manage climate and disaster risks.
Presentations during the three-day workshops are available at: projectclimatetwinphoenix.com/resource-library.