Prepared, informed, equipped
WE WANT local disaster risk reduction and management councils capacitated to cope with any disaster. In Western Visayas, the Office of Civil Defense is correct in conducting disaster contingency planning workshops most especially in municipalities along major river basins.
We must make disaster prevention and preparedness a way of life. Natural hazards like typhoons, earthquakes, tsunamis, and storm surges will not turn into disasters when we reduce risks and we are all prepared, informed and equipped.
For instance, a magnitude 7.2 earthquake will not cause deaths or damage if there are no buildings on fault lines or if buildings and structures are built to withstand such a strong earthquake. A storm surge will not turn into a disaster if there are no settlements near the coastlines, or if there are enough mangroves to serve as buffer, or if residents are evacuated ahead of time.
There are many ways to prevent disasters. We may be vulnerable to natural hazards and the effects of climate change but we do not have to be helpless. We must be in control, we must be proactive, we must take urgent action.
Let us thus focus on managing the risks rather than managing disasters. Disaster risk management should not be carried out only right before calamities happen. Local government units should be at the forefront of the planning, preparation and execution of the plans to provide an effective “first line of defense” against disaster risks. Funds should be sufficiently allocated.
Cooperation among local and national governments, businesses, and the communities is imperative if we are to overcome or avoid disasters.