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Legarda: Invest in Climate-Resilient Infrastructure to Avert Floods

September 15, 2013

Senator Loren Legarda today said that the country should invest more in infrastructure that are climate-resilient so that disasters, such as floods, are averted and not merely reacted upon.

Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Climate Change, made the statement after the Climate Change Commission cited a World Bank study which revealed that the Philippines has increased its budget by 26 percent in climate change adaptation programs, but the bulk has been used in flood control.

The World Bank report stated that for 2013, about 90 percent of the climate fund is allocated to address flooding and rehabilitation of infrastructure and sector support.

“While it is very important that we immediately address flooding woes in the country, we must ensure that we are building long term programs. If we are to rebuild the same infrastructure that have been devastated by extreme weather events, then we are only causing more expenses. What we must do is to invest in strengthening the resilience of infrastructure from disasters, upgrading flood control and road drainage standards, setting up rainwater catchment facilities, desilting rivers, and installing flood monitoring and warning systems, among others,” said Legarda.

The Senator reiterated that extreme weather events, such as heavy and excessive rainfall, are the new norm, which makes flood prevention even more challenging.

“For many of our people, every single day of work is synonymous to survival. When heavy rains resulting to flooded and impassable roads prevent a daily wage earner from going to work, it would mean no earnings for the day, no food on the table,” Legarda stressed.

She cited statistics from the Emergency Events Database (EM-DAT) of the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) showing that in 2011, floods and storms cost the Philippines US$730 million, affected 11.6 million people and claimed 1,904 lives.

“While heavy and excessive rainfall is part of the new normal, we need not live with the risks that disrupt our social and economic activities. We need not have flooded streets, heavy traffic, and stranded commuters in the metropolis or washed away houses, collapsed bridges, displaced families and devastated farmlands for every intense rain or typhoon,” said Legarda.

“We must practice enhanced disaster prevention, mitigation, and preparedness more than mere response. We must prove ourselves more proactive and more effective in reducing risks,” she concluded.