CMDRR expert: ‘Sendong’ exposes flaws in anti-disaster paradigm-A A +A
Monday, January 9, 2012
MANILA -- In recent times where climate change has began to rear its ugly head and regularly wreck havoc on the lives, properties and territories, the disaster and risk management becomes an important concern that the government, private sector and the people in general must give serious attention.
This was the statement of Rustico Binas, a global advisor on CMDRR (Community-Managed Disaster Risk Reduction) program of Holland-based international development organization CORDAID, in an interview here over the weekend shortly before he left for India and other Asian countries.
Binas said “the devastations of Tropical Storm ‘Sendong’ that recently hit northern Mindanao and some parts of central Visayas including Negros Oriental, have exposed the flaws in the government anti- disaster paradigm and in its overall preparedness to manage risks and disasters.”
“The people especially those in highly vulnerable areas like near or along rivers, denuded mountains, usual path of flashfloods, mining communities, dumpsites, and even stiff upland resorts and subdivisions, are also largely unmindful of the risks surrounding them and more so in their lack of preparedness when risks become real disasters,” Binas said.
Binas, who have also trained some local government units and private sector groups on DRR, said that “the government needs an urgent paradigm shift from a DRR that is mainly a government-led on-disaster defense program to that of community-led, village-based, multi-sectoral, multi-dimensional comprehensive disaster risk reduction.”
“Various risks and hazards like typhoons, flashfloods, landslides, earthquakes, tsunamis, fires, famine, disaster, epidemics, armed conflicts, and many others, can be prevented to turn into disaster or calamity when and only when people are well-informed about them, better organized, have the skills to face them, and have the adequate and necessary equipments based in the community,” Binas stressed.
“Many of these hazards and risks are area-specific and human-induced; this is why the first line of defense against these are the communities, the people in the villages, and not those outside them, or can respond only hours after the disaster strikes,” he said.
Binas emphasized that the disasters of Ormoc, Ondoy, Sendong, and countless others, have clearly shown that people and the government are helpless in facing disasters.
Negros he said have had its own disasters that also exposed the very bad environmental condition of the island, and the poor anti-disaster program of the provincial and local government.
“The paradigm must shift from external-driven, government-led, situational-response, relief-oriented to internal-driven, community-based, sustainability and strategic-oriented,” Binas said.
“This is why the government, and also the private sector, must put premium in spending the billions of government and donor funds to helping communities build their own system and structures to protect and improve their houses, farms and enterprises; develop their collective medium and strategic planning capacity; empower them and develop their cooperative spirit; hold regular community-level anti-disaster drills; train them on how to have technical capacity to read signals of risks and hazards; and build their indigenous equipments and facilities in cases of emergencies,” he added.
Binas who is now hopping countries in Asian and India promoting and modeling CMDRR said that when communities are well organized and better prepared their vulnerability to risks and hazards is low and therefore the chances of disaster is also low; if they are not, their vulnerability to disaster is high.
“I hope that the Sendong disaster would serve as critical reminder to our legislators, policy-makers, strategic planners, local government leaders and even non-government organizations and people’s associations to stop their mediocrity and stupidity because they are dealing not with other’s lives but also their own,” Binas concluded. (Karl G. Ombion)
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on January 09, 2012.