READY Project National Conference “Hazard Mapping and Assessment for Effective Community Based Disaster Risk Management”

November 24, 2011

(Standard Greetings)
Allow me first to thank the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) for inviting me to this conference that is very significant to our advocacy of strengthening disaster risk reduction efforts in the community level.
Disaster risks, by all indications, are increasing exponentially. The fusion of socio-economic realities and extreme climatic events has confounded gallant attempts by governments. We cannot, however, be caught off-balanced and discouraged, and instead, try to match our best intentions with a resolve to scale up efforts in disaster risk reduction. As a nation that has consistently gone up in global rankings on vulnerability to climate change impacts, we have more reasons to work double time.
In 2009, the Philippines was number 12 most at risk from cyclones, floods, earthquakes and landslides based on the Mortality Risk Index by the United Nations International Strategy on Disaster Reduction (UNISDR); in 2010, we were the sixth most climate-vulnerable nation according to the Climate Change Vulnerability Index; and for this year, we are considered the third most vulnerable by the United Nations University’s Institute for Environment and Human Security.
A January 2009 study funded by Canada and Sweden found that of the ten ASEAN countries, the Philippines is a hot spot for cyclones, landslides, floods, and droughts. In fact, according to this study’s “multiple climate hazard index”, the Philippines was ranked highest among all countries in the ASEAN.
The same study listed the most vulnerable provinces or districts in Southeast Asia, and found that the National Capital Region ranks 7th among all cities in the ASEAN, with the Cordilleras 27th and Central Luzon 30th.
As we learn of these facts and realize that our communities are vulnerable to several hazards, it is crucial that we define what remains for national and local governments to do in order to deliver to the Filipino people at the soonest possible time the benefits of reducing risks from disasters and climate change.
Internationally, our two laws on climate change and disaster risk management, which we labored much to get passed and enacted, have been considered model legislation by the UNISDR and the Inter-Parliamentary Union for other countries to emulate. This is one best practice that we could also share readily to the other nations. However, the world is keen on how these laws would translate into tangible and meaningful benefits for the people.
The READY Project is an essential component of our disaster risk reduction and management strategy, as it will provide maps that all government agencies could use as a basis in identifying and undertaking priority adaptation activities. We have to determine the specific vulnerabilities and unique needs of every community. The country as a whole is prone to various natural hazards; but every region, province, town, and barangay has varying level of exposure and vulnerability.
I take note that 27 high risk provinces have been covered by this project which includes multi-hazard identification and disaster risk assessment, development of disaster preparedness mechanisms and early warning systems in the community level including information campaign, and introducing and promoting the integration of risk reduction in local development planning.
We thank the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for their assistance especially in funding this very important initiative. The support of our local government units, non-government organizations, international non-government organizations, and private institutions is highly appreciated as well.
Likewise, the government agencies that comprise the Collective Strengthening of Community Awareness for Natural Disasters (CSCAND) led by the NDRRMC deserve to be recognized for their hard work and commitment to accomplish this project.
We are aware that efforts are being undertaken at the country level; but if we have to win this battle against climate change and disaster impacts, we need to intensify bold initiatives that have been taking roots in pioneering local communities.
The tasks before us are very straightforward. We have to make our communities safer, more resilient, and ever ready to act when disaster strikes.
We must build homes in areas that will ensure safety and security to our people even in times of disasters.
We must construct roads and bridges to facilitate movements of goods and services and make sure they do not facilitate the demise of lives.
We must train our sights not only in enhancing our capacities to re-build in times of disasters; but more importantly on reducing risks for our people and building lasting communities.
The magnitude of the work ahead of us seems daunting, but together, we can make our communities resilient against disasters. Our people expect and have a right to nothing less than our wholehearted commitment towards this.
Thank you.