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Legarda: First GCF Grant Crucial in Improving PH resilience to Disasters

November 14, 2019

“The Philippines needs to effectively reduce disaster risk as its effects have become more complex. The approval of the USD10 million-grant by the Green Climate Fund is very timely, not only as we commemorate this month the onslaught of Typhoon Yolanda 6 years ago, but also because of the increasing frequency and uncertainty of extreme hazard events that we have faced these past months and years,” Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda said today.

The Green Climate Fund (GCF), which convened for the 24th Board Meeting in Songdo, South Korea, approved the USD10 million grant to the Philippines’ proposed project for the establishment of multi-hazard impact-based forecasting and early warning systems and services (MH-IBF-EWS) that aims to strengthen and ensure the delivery of actionable and timely early warning to communities at risk of impending natural hazards.

The former senator pointed out that, “Yolanda was a tragic example of how natural hazards caused by climate change could severely impact on people’s lives, properties, and well-being. With the grave projections from the latest climate science, it is even more important to prepare for these extreme weather events.”

“The GCF’s approval of this project is crucial in enabling the government and our communities to become more resilient as we look back at the lessons learned in the past and translate these lessons into action,” said Legarda.

In 2013, Typhoon Yolanda brought massive devastation to the country and to the lives of thousands of Filipinos. Six years after, the disaster continuously reminds everyone about the importance of disaster preparedness and risk reduction. Based on an assessment released by the German Aid Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ), 94% of the casualties during the onslaught of the typhoon in Tacloban, Palo and Tanauan were caused by the unexpected storm surge. In November 2014, a book titled “Y It Happened”, a narrative of the experiences of people affected and lessons learned in the community was launched spearheaded by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).

The timeline illustrated in the book by the NDRRMC-OCD showed that Yolanda was already being monitored a week before it entered the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) and weather advisories through PAGASA and NDRRMC were already facilitated and relayed to provincial and municipal DRRM offices. However, according to the book, statement accounts from survivors of Yolanda said that although they were warned about a possible storm surge, they did not know what it could bring and did not imagine the severity of its impact several kilometers inland.

“We need to continuously conduct massive education and information campaign on disaster preparedness in a way that risk and hazard information are relayed to majority of our people into understandable and actionable early warnings so that communities do not remain complacent,” said Legarda.

“Knowing local risks for hazards and having an established early-warning system will not only help ensure early action at the household and community, but will also mitigate the effects of disasters to poor people and the working middle class; businesses, schools, government offices, trade industry and stock market; farmers; and fisherfolks,” said Legarda.

Legarda, an alternate member of the GCF board who is also a UNISDR Global Champion for Resilience, explained that multi-hazard early warning systems inform the people of the potential impacts of impending natural hazards, the risks on their lives and livelihoods, and the action they should take.

The project’s lead executing entity PAGASA said that the MH-IBF-EWS will catalyze a paradigm shift from the traditional weather forecasts to multi-hazard impact-based forecasting and early warning and will enable timely impact- based early warning and actionable information to deliver the right interventions to the right people at the right time. The agency believes that by improving people’s understanding of the potential impacts of extreme weather events, communities can take early mitigating actions and reduce adverse impacts on lives, livelihoods, property and economy.

“PAGASA has done a lot with limited funding and with the additional grant that we have to establish this MH-IBF-EWS, it could do much better. I encourage the agency to fully utilize the funds in providing vital information that can be useful in formulating development plans as well as in crafting mechanisms for disaster mitigation as the detrimental effects of climate crisis continue to progress,” Legarda the principal author of Republic Act No. 10692 or the PAGASA Modernization Act stressed.

“We are a country facing risks of natural hazards with an estimated 20 typhoon visits each year. Given this vulnerability, we have to work double time in building disaster resilient people and communities. The road towards resilience may be tough, but this fund now provides an opportunity to transform our traditional early warning systems and services towards a more proactive and inclusive climate risk management tool for saving lives and resources,” Legarda concluded.***