Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management: How Far did we go?

Part 1

“Haiyan,” today’s third strongest typhoon in the whole world landed in The Philippines two years ago damaging billions and stealing thousands of lives. These damages didn’t end as a usual record but a lesson to take and pointers to note both for the country’s government and the whole world’s.

More forecasters around the globe have seen the effect of climate change that is rooted both for natural phenomenon and man-made reasons. These, in general, resulted – and will still result – to higher vulnerability of resources and of human lives.

Late 2010, under the Arroyo government, the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management act of 2010 was enacted. Labelled as the more proactive risk reduction management act, the Philippines now entered to a higher degree of disaster preparedness, mitigation, response and rehabilitation.

The question now is…how far did we go on these?

DEFINING DISASTER

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (2000) defined disaster as an extreme disruption  of the functioning of a society that causes widespread human, material, or environmental losses that exceeds the ability of the affected societies to cope with  using only  its own resources. Events such as earthquakes, floods and cyclones, by themselves, are not considered disaster if and then it adversely and seriously affects human lives, livelihoods and property.

disaster 2
 

Image from AFP

 

There are three common types of classification of disasters: these are as follows:

  1. Hazards causing disaster. These are disasters classified according to cause and results in the disastrous social and economic consequences. These include earthquake, floods, typhoons, tornadoes, landslide, pest, etc.
  2. Speed of onset. The speed of the disasters’ onset is another way of distinguishing among others. Rapid onset disasters refer to an event or hazards that occur suddenly, or came with a little warning. This causes a great devastation to human life and destroying economic structures and material resources.
  3. Acts of nature or acts of human. Disasters are sometimes classified as they are caused by natural processes or caused by human. Disasters caused by chemical or industrial accidents, environmental pollutions, alike are classified as human- caused disasters since they are caused by human activities and action.

WHAT MAKES THE PHILIPPINE VULNERABLE?

The Philippines by virtue of its geographic circumstances is highly prone to natural disaster, such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tropical storms, and floods making it one of the most disaster prone countries in the world (World Bank & NDCC, 2003).

The Philippines according to Ginnetti (2013) is astride both the typhoon belt and the ring of fire’. Thus, more Filipinos face high level of disaster risk. Typhoon belt refers to part of the earth which is frequently hit by typhoon while the ring of fire refers the string of volcanoes and sites of seismic activity, or earthquakes, around the edges of the Pacific Ocean.

disaster 3
 

Image from PAGASA

 

Due to more than 7, 000 islands and 36,000 kilometers coastlines, the Philippines is highly vulnerable to the impacts of natural disaster, including the global phenomenon of climate change. With global warming, environmental degradation, high population density and poverty condition, the impacts are intensified (Senate Economic Planning Office, 2013).

Meanwhile, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (2000) defined vulnerability as a susceptibility of human or structure to cope with adverse effects of a disaster. Meanwhile, human vulnerability refers to lack of capacity of a person or communities to anticipate, cope with, resist, or recover from the impact of a disaster.

So to speak, what makes a country vulnerable to disaster is their ability to cope with in many aspects. Few of these are preparing for and recovering from the effects of a disaster. Take note that a natural calamity will be never be considered without the lives and resources of people at stake. Therefore, the ability of the country to sustain its effort to disaster management before, during and after a catastrophe is the key to disaster preparedness.

FOR UPDATES: PART II

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