Consortium calls for inclusiveness in DRR law sunset review

BUTUAN City — The Scaling Up Resilience in Governance (SURGE) reiterates anew the need for inclusiveness in all aspects of disaster risk reduction (DRR).

The call coincides with the ongoing sunset review or the mandatory review of Republic Act 10121, otherwise known as the Disaster Risk Reduction Management Act of 2010 after five years.

”Since 2010, typhoons and other natural disasters have been a litmus test on the laws relevance. This is specially so among the poor and many others who have been rendered vulnerable. While there is a marked improvement on preparedness among some local government units (LGUs), there are still inconsistent and in some places, sub-standard results in addressing the specific needs of the more marginalized groups such as women and girls,” Nina Somera of Oxfam said.

In an Oxfam post-typhoon Yolanda analysis, it appears that girls and boys have been forced to become adults that resulted to more pregnancies.

Meanwhile, as Typhoon Ruby passed through Caraga and other parts of the Philippines, many people voluntarily headed to designated evacuation centers. However, this highlighted another concern as the capacity of some evacuation centers was not able to match an increase of the population. Some also lacked appropriate water and sanitation facilities.

RA 10121 mandates LGUs to develop DRRM plans, establish DRRM offices and tap DRRM funds. It also provides for the coordinating mechanisms between and among LGUs, and science-based institutions.

However, the implementation of the law does not always address the specific needs of the sectors which mostly affected by the disasters. Many evacuation centers have limited water and sanitation services which are quite critical for women and girls. Not early warning systems can be used by persons with disabilities.

The absence of the disaggregated data means that some cash for work initiatives may be missing those most in need. Some DRR plans and budget are also not inclusive as marginalized individuals and communities were not consulted.

”Communities in Caraga have been benefitted from the participatory vulnerabilities and capacities assessment (PCVA) tools and methods, which identifies the sources of insecurities and resilience especially of the marginalized individuals and communities. However, these can only be effective when there is sufficient ownership and support including funds from LGUs and when initiatives are sustained over long term period,” Esteban Magsaca of the People’s Disaster Risk Reduction Network (PDRRN) shared.

PCVA maps the vulnerabilities and the capacities of the individuals and communities. It locates women, children, elderly, persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and other marginalized groups, with details such as their occupation, educational attainment and the roles they typically play. It is the basis of contingency plans and other broader development plans of the LGUs.

Together with the Peoples Disaster Risk Reduction Network (PDRRN) and the Center for Disaster Preparedness (CDP), SURGE organized the workshop starting Thursday and may end Friday with the aim of identifying changes which would advance the mainstreaming of inclusive community-based disaster risk reduction (ICBDRR) within the law.

This workshop was also a platform to strengthen a civil society position for the upcoming 3rd World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR) on March 2015 in Sendai, Japan.

”A public consultation on RA10121 will not only raise awareness on the rights of everyone to have the wherewithal to survive and recover from disasters in the Philippines. It can also strengthen the country’s position in influencing international DRR frameworks and action,” Malu Felizar Cagar of CDP explained.

For her part, Liza Mazo, Regional Director of the Office of the Civil Defence in Caraga shared SURGE’s call for inclusiveness during the sunset review.

“The sun set review is a chance to have all the voices, especially those who bear the brunt of disasters. We commend SURGE and its partners for reaching out to marginalized groups and extending the opportunities to meaningful participation. This is one of the first steps in advancing ICBDRR and influencing the law in the most positive way,” she said.

SURGE is a consortium composed of Christian Aid, Handicap International, Oxfam and Plan International. It accordingly aims to build and increase resilience of high-risk communities by promoting inclusive community-based disaster risk reduction (ICBDRR) practices and taking the learning to other communities in the Philippines. SURGE also lobbies for improvements in disaster risk management policies and practices by using evidence from experience. It is accordingly supported by the European Union humanitarian aid. (PNA)

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