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Legarda: Intensify DRR Programs to Address PHL’s Increased Exposure to Disaster Risks

March 7, 2015

Citing a recent study that showed Philippine cities are most exposed to natural hazards, Senator Loren Legarda today renewed her call for strengthened disaster risk reduction programs in the country.

Legarda, United Nations Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation for Asia-Pacific, said national and local government leaders should address the factors that aggravate disaster risks and build resilience to reduce the effects of exposure of communities to natural hazards.

“Many studies have already cited the Philippines as among the most vulnerable to natural hazards. The country’s geographical location makes it prone to natural hazards, which can be addressed by building resilience. But the unfortunate truth is that aside from the country’s physical attributes, other factors such as poor urban governance, vulnerable rural livelihoods, and continuing ecosystems decline have made disaster risks more prevalent in our communities,” the Senator explained.

The 5th annual Natural Hazards Risk Atlas (NHRA) assessed the natural hazard exposure of over 1,300 cities around the world and found that of the 100 cities with the greatest exposure to natural hazards, 21 are located in the Philippines; and of the top 10, eight are Philippine cities, including Tuguegarao, Cagayan Valley (2nd), Lucena, Quezon (3rd), Manila (4th), San Fernando, Pampanga (5th) and Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija (6th).

“Disasters as an enemy are becoming more enigmatic and formidable. It is no longer business as usual. The situation calls for a multi-hazard approach for early warning system anchored on close coordination among hazard warning agencies,” Legarda said.

“Our local government units (LGUs) must step up as well. They should plan well and invest public resources wisely with reducing disaster risk as a goal; promote a culture of safety and resilience engaging all stakeholders and sectors; raise awareness of disaster and climate risk at community and family level; and improve local early warning and community preparedness systems,” she added.

The Senator said that disaster risks could be reduced if national and local governments adhere to the five DRR priorities contained in the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA), namely, to (1) make DRR a priority in national and local levels; (2) know the risks and enhance early warning; (3) build understanding and awareness; (4) reduce the underlying risk factors; and (5) strengthen disaster preparedness and response at all levels.

The HFA, a global blueprint for disaster risk reduction efforts with a ten-year plan, was adopted in 2005 during the World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction held in Kobe, Hyogo, Japan.

“In the upcoming 3rd World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR) in Sendai, Japan, nations would adopt a new post-2015 DRR priority action framework. The Philippine experience, including its vulnerability to natural hazards, strengths and ongoing DRR programs, as well as best practices, are valuable inputs that we must share to make the successor framework an effective DRR blueprint for the next decade,” Legarda said.

“We head towards Sendai with a global perspective, with the realization that even if there are countries that are more vulnerable, we are all exposed to natural hazards. Beyond our respective countries, the world must act more swiftly, more wisely, and more decisively to reduce disaster risks more effectively,” she stressed.

At the Third WCDRR, Legarda will participate in the IPU Parliamentary Meeting: Governance and Legislation for DRR(March 13) as speaker for the moderated panel discussion,Improving Legislation for DRR. She will co-chair with Japanese Minister of Internal Affairs Sanae Takaichi the High Level Multi-stakeholder Partnership Dialogue on Mobilising Women’s Leadership in DRR (March 14), and join the TV Panel Debate:Can we expect the private sector to strengthen the resilience of the World’s built environment? (March 15).