28 December 2011 -- Senator Loren Legarda today urged President Aquino to allocate sufficient resources for disaster risk reduction (DRR) as she encouraged the government to fully implement an international action plan that provides a framework to effectively reduce risks to disasters.
Legarda, the UN Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation for Asia Pacific, is referring to the Hyogo Framework for Action or HFA, a ten-year blueprint for reducing risks to disasters worldwide that was adopted by 168 Member States of the United Nations, including the Philippines, in 2005.
"DRR is the first line of defense against climate risks. The implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action will certainly boost our disaster preparedness and resilience efforts as this plan provides us five priorities for action to substantially reduce disaster losses" she said.
The Senator explained that the HFA urges governments to (1) make DRR a priority; (2) know the risks and take action; (3) build understanding and awareness; (4) reduce risk; and (5) be prepared and ready to act.
In this light, Legarda has called for the immediate launch of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Plan (NDRRMP) and the Climate Change Action Plan (NCCAP), which should be integrated into the local Comprehensive Land Use, Development and Annual Investment Plans.
"Communities and all local government units must learn from the experience of cities and municipalities affected by Sendong and begin reviewing their development plans, strengthening DRRM, and allocating funds to support DRRM initiatives," Legarda said.
She also explained that communities must know the risks that they face and take actions based on that knowledge.
"Geo-hazard maps will tell us where it is unsafe to build homes. It is only logical not to build subdivisions in flood-prone areas or construct buildings along a fault line. Aside from building safe infrastructure, we must also institutionalize effective and efficient early warning systems that will allow people at risk to respond immediately, therefore averting deaths in disasters," the Senator stressed.
"Also, to substantially reduce disaster losses, people at risk should be well-informed about measures they can take to reduce vulnerability. LGUs, with the help of media, schools and community-based organizations, must increase awareness of our people on disaster prevention," she added.
Legarda also pointed out that there must be equal effort to reduce the underlying risk factors. For instance, the recent disaster in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan revealed the massive illegal logging operations that have exacerbated the effect of typhoon Sendong. Thus, protecting forests and wetlands in order to enhance the capacity of the environment to withstand hazards is a must.
Lastly, disaster preparedness must be strengthened through regular disaster preparedness exercises, such as evacuation drills, for fast and effective disaster response. Safe, timely and pre-emptive evacuation must be strictly undertaken to avoid casualties.
"The devastation caused by Sendong was amplified by the lack of preparedness. Thus, we need to ensure that political commitments to the HFA translate into concrete actions and measurable gains from national to local levels. We cannot afford to be short-sighted in the era of climate change and content ourselves with post-disaster relief and rehabilitation," Legarda concluded.
16 December 2011 -- The drought and famine in the Horn of Africa continues, with the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS Net) recently confirming that the famine in the Middle Shabelle, as well as among internally displaced populations in Afgoye and the Somali capital of Mogadishu, will continue through the end of the year. The result is a humanitarian crisis that has left an estimated 250,000 people at risk of imminent starvation, a population about the size of Madison, Wisconsin. While this number is lower than the 750,000 previously anticipated, the disaster remains the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, with a child dying every six minutes in Somalia.
Humanitarian response in pastoral areas in the Horn of Africa has consistently been late. An enormous investment in early warning over a number of years has brought great improvements: mass human fatalities have become rarer in the past 25 years. However, humanitarian response now aims to prevent not only large-scale loss of life, but also the destruction of livelihoods. Our response has not kept up with this ambition. Evaluations have shown that interventions to protect and support people’s livelihoods have consistently – if not invariably – arrived too late to achieve their intended impact. The fact that response has most consistently been late in pastoral areas should be striking for two reasons: first, because food security crises in the pastoral areas of the Horn are so regular; and second, because droughts in pastoral areas are the slowest-onset crises imaginable. (A true drought is usually the result of more than two successive rain failures.) So, why is response least timely precisely where we have a) most warning and b) the most practice? These questions have been asked for more than 30 years.
21 December 2011 -- A Philippines government official has warned of the growing threat of disease in crowded evacuation centres, after devastating flash floods in the country's south left more than a thousand people dead and scores more displaced.
20 December 2011 --
19 December 2011: The coalition against cluster bombs looks forward to working productively with the government and all political parties in support of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, but is deeply disappointed that the long-standing and widely respected position of New Zealand’s Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control has been scrapped.
“The loss of our dedicated Disarmament Minister is significant as this role has helped New Zealand to play a unique leadership role in the international movement to ban cluster bombs and in other crucial disarmament efforts,” said Mary Wareham, coordinator of the Aotearoa New Zealand Cluster Munition Coalition (ANZCMC).
The post-election Cabinet listing of Ministerial portfolios announced on 12 December 2011 does not list a Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control, but instead stated that New Zealand’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Murray McCully, now “incorporates the responsibilities formerly included in the Disarmament and Arms Control portfolio.”
In a 13 December 2011 letter, the ANZCMC welcomed Hon. Murray McCully’s assumption of responsibilities on disarmament and outlined its expectations for the New Zealand’s government’s engagement in the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions. The NGO coalition expressed “deep disappointment” that the portfolio formerly represented by the Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control has been incorporated into the overall responsibilities of the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
“New Zealand needs active and constructive engagement by a dedicated Minister to advance the humanitarian disarmament agenda, including the ban on cluster bombs,” said Wareham. “We look forward to a productive relationship with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and to working with all parties in support of the Convention on Cluster Munitions.”
Press Release: Aotearoa New Zealand Cluster Munition Coalition, READ MORE...
16 December 2011 -- The UN has called for US$1.06 billion to help 4.2 million people in Sudan cope with one of the world’s largest humanitarian crises in 2012, as several parts of the country face protracted conflict and internal displacement.
19 December 2011 -- Philippine rescuers struggled against mud, fatigue and the stench of death to help the survivors of devastating flash floods that killed more than 650 people.
15 December 2011 - It's not too late to act to prevent a major food crisis in the Sahel region, but it will take an "unprecedented effort" from the international community to do so, according to a group of aid agencies operating in west Africa.