Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Thoughts from a Disaster Preparedness and Response Conference

This one, too, is worth sharing...

I recently came from the World Food Programme-Philippines 2015 National Forum on Disaster Preparedness and Response (DPR). The participants in that conference included representatives from relevant national government agencies and local government units, representatives from the academia, non-government organizations and civil society organizations who are partners of WFP-Philippines.
One of the highlights of the activity was a workshop wherein participants were made to assess the Philippines’ capacity for DPR, using a WFP-developed tool. While the data generated were from the areas where WFP-Philippines have active DPR interventions and cannot speak for the Philippines, the results spoke a lot about where interventions are/will be most needed. Among the critical gaps identified were the need to educate people not only on disaster management but more importantly on disaster risk management and the need to communicate the so-called “new normal” down to the barangay level to increase awareness among people about being informed/prepared for disasters. The information and communication challenges to overcome are inclusion and participation.
The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 was also discussed. The Sendai Framework is a precursor instrument of the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015: Building the Resilience of Nations and Communities to Disasters. The Sendai Framework (2015) emphasizes disaster risk management as opposed to disaster management, risk prevention and mitigation, resilience building, underscores collective responsibilities and the importance of translating this global framework to science-based policies and programs at the local level and leveraging on technologies.
The Sendai Framework (2015) identifies four priorities for action, namely: (1) understanding disaster risk, (2) strengthening disaster risk governance to manage disaster risk, (3) investing in disaster risk reduction and resilience, and (4) enhancing disaster preparedness for effective response and to “build back better” in recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction. Under each of these priorities are global goals which have policy and program implications at the global and regional and national and local levels.

The Philippines’ conrtibution to this is the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Plan, 2011-2018. Four themes with corresponding national goals were identified (See Figure). The document identifies responsibilities and strategies for plan implementation based on provisions of the Republic Act 10121. The law mandates the local government units to localize this national plan to address distinct requirements from the regional, municipal, and barangay levels.
Another important contribution is the DRR Knowledge Center, the online library for Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management. Everyone will benefit from this resource. 
I agree that translating this framework to policy and practice may be challenging because it requires not only resources but also capacities and a shift in thinking from being reactive to proactive. It will be, of value, nonetheless to acknowledge that each has a contribution to make, no matter how little. Information professionals and communication practitioners, in particular, play an important role across all phases of information and education campaigns and can influence information and communication policy and practice in disaster preparedness and response.   

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