UN asks LGUs to change attitude towards disasters

Margareta Wahlstrom, United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary General for Disaster Risk Reduction, met with Governor Hilario P. Davide III together with the mayors of northern Cebu and other stakeholders to discuss the progress of recovery in Cebu after super typhoon Yolanda.

Wahlstrom said that there is a need to change attitude towards disaster and adopt a culture of prevention rather than disaster response. She also urged the local chief executives to “strengthen everything” not only on structural but most importantly on economic resilience. “We should strengthen everything, from buildings to the economic side” Wahlstrom said.

Wahlstrom also stressed that stakeholders must organize themselves in advance and come up with a Pre-disaster Agreement between private organizations and the government in anticipation of another disaster.

Wahlstrom said that in her assessment, Cebu did well in the relief and recovery operations after typhoon Yolanda. After her interaction with northern Cebu mayors, she said that progress in shelter is very encouraging, compared to other countries that barely got started in three to four months time. Intense public-private collaboration and an efficient government are the factors that Wahlstrom said contributed to this progress.

Governor Davide also presented the recovery efforts of the Provincial Government and mentioned that there is an existing Memorandum of Understanding between Cebu Province and some international organizations like the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), International Labour Organization (ILO), and Islamic Relief.

Baltz Tribunalo, head of Task Force Paglig-on, the rehabilitation arm of the Provincial Government, presented the shortcomings and the actions taken by the government in its rehabilitation efforts. Tribunalo admitted that the absence of a provincial contingency plan is a key limitation. Tribunalo however said that the strong inter coordination and inter agency convergence spearheaded by Task Force Paglig-on brought holistic rehabilitation in northern Cebu.

Lito Maderazo of the Cebu Chanber of Commerce said that in response to disaster preparedness, they advocated for an economic resiliency in doing business which will consider geo hazard conditions, climate and energy adaptation, and green technology.

Governor Davide said the provincial government will heed the call in strengthening resilience in disasters both in structures and in economic aspect.

Disaster preparedness is part of the five star development agenda of the Governor. Recently Davide distributed 200 thousand pesos to all municipalities in Cebu Province to advance disaster preparedness activities. Diana Higida