Legarda Urges Community-Based Early Warning Systems to Reduce Losses from Tsunamis and Disasters

November 4, 2018

Senator Loren Legarda today called on national and local officials to implement community-based early warning systems and other disaster risk reduction measures to save lives and mitigate damages from tsunamis and other disasters.

Legarda, Global Champion for Resilience of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), made the statement on World Tsunami Awareness Day, November 5, which aligns this year with the International Day for Disaster Reduction and the Sendai Seven Campaign focusing on Target “C” of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction aimed at reducing direct disaster economic loss in relation to GDP.

“Tsunamis might not be as frequent as other natural hazards, but they are considered as extremely deadly and costly. It is important that our authorities, especially those who serve our coastal communities, are well versed in disaster risk reduction measures to prepare for and avoid its impacts,” Legarda said.

Legarda said that tsunamis, in the last century, registered an average of 4,600 deaths per disaster, surpassing the mortality rate for any other natural hazard.[1] She added that, from 1998 to 2017, economic losses from tsunamis registered at $280 billion, compared to the $2.7 billion in economic losses from 1978 to 1997.[2]

Senator Legarda noted three incidents: the Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004, which caused the highest number of fatalities with an estimated 227,000 deaths in 14 countries; the Sulawesi tsunami just this September that claimed over 2,000 lives in Central Sulawesi, Indonesia; and the Moro Gulf tsunami in 1976, which registered 4,381 deaths, the highest number of tsunami-related fatalities in the Philippines.[3]

She also reported that, for the Philippines, tsunamis and other disasters have caused damages of at least P388.74 billion between 2011 and 2018, with government spending for rehabilitation and recovery at P559.86 billion, based on figures from the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

“Our local authorities must first understand that early warning systems are not reliant on technologies. As what we have learned from the purok system of Camotes Island in Cebu, effective coordination is key in saving all lives within a community even in the face of a typhoon as ruthless as Yolanda,” Legarda said.

“Developing these systems must be participatory. In times of disaster, we depend on the cooperation of our people in disseminating information and heeding the call for evacuation. Our authorities must therefore work with the communities to develop systems and plans that our people will actually follow,” Legarda concluded.***

[1] United Nations. “World Tsunami Awareness Day.” http://www.un.org/en/events/tsunamiday/

[2] Tsunami are a clear and ever-present danger by Mami Mizutori, UN Special Representative of the Secretary General for Disaster Risk Reductionhttps://www.preventionweb.net/news/view/61607