Disaster groups talk about better strategies, unified responses

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Monday, February 10, 2014


AS CLIMATE change continues to wreak havoc, various disaster risk response groups in Cagayan de Oro City studied and discussed measures to temper the impact and collate the experiences to come up with better strategies and unified responses in times of disaster.

Spearheaded by Xavier University’s disaster risk response team, the experiences of organizations from “Kagayanong Pakigbulig” were highlighted during the caucus on February 5.

The caucus intended to tap disaster response groups to expand the structure of the local disaster response organization. It also aimed to gather all the best practices and the areas that need improvement and how to go about them.

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“All the experiences of organizations that are involved in the ‘Kagayanong Pakigbulig’ were highlighted,” said Ermin Stan Pimentel, director of the Kristohanong Katilingban sa Pagpakabana-Social Involvement Office of Xavier University (KKP-SIO).

Pimentel said that for the collated learning to be collaborative, various members of the local government units were invited.

“We have invited village officials to see their perspective including the people in the city,” Pimentel said.

Not a substitute

Pimentel added the effort is not intended to substitute the disaster response capacity of the local government units and international agencies, but to provide support and recommendations.

Important components to run a disaster risk response had been identified. One of those is following the guidelines set by the United Nations (UN) for disaster response.

The participants agreed that one of the best practices is to have an organized network of donors.

It is also important to have a secretariat that caters the receiving of donations, and a warehouse where the donations could be put at bay, the participants said.

During relief operations, the community should get involved and the spirit of volunteerism should be encouraged if not practiced, they added, while information dissemination drive should also be proliferated and conducted to ensure smooth and organized relief operations.

It was also agreed that relief goods and other materials or items for aid should be readily available before disasters strike.

One of the participants discussed that disaster response volunteers should be trained experts like engineers, doctors and nurses. Depending on the needs, the volunteers’ expertise should be maximized.

“Dili lang basta-basta magkuha og volunteers,” one of the participants said.

Aside from the basics like food, water and medical assistance, psychosocial or emotional assessment should immediately follow after the basic relief operations to assist the survivors facing traumas, they said.

Also agreed during the discussion was that details about the fatalities and the total amount of damage should be updated from time to time.

Apart from that, introducing the ways to come up with the computations regarding the amount of damage and the number of fatalities should be made available to the volunteers, said the participants.

Also one of the concerns the caucus tackled was the availability of the response groups in the city.

Pimentel said there are groups interested, but they have not been tapped yet.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on February 10, 2014.

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