BEFORE super typhoon “Yolanda” made landfall six years ago on Nov. 8, 2013 many local governments prepared for its coming, enforcing evacuation of many families in barangays located along the coast or were prone to floods and landslides. Despite this, over 6,000 individuals died.
This should make us realize the importance of rebuilding stronger communities so that when more Yolanda-like storms strike, we’re better prepared to withstand them. The exhausting and costly cycle of rebuilding after every disaster must come to an end. This is the greater challenge.
It will not be enough to build people’s lives and communities to where they were before the disaster — we need to rebuild communities with the confidence that we are not rebuilding the risks again; we need to ensure that reconstruction of homes and infrastructure will be in safer ground following sound construction standards; we need to soon restart and create livelihoods; and restore normalcy in people’s lives with a stronger sense of hope and confidence for the future.
Thus after every post-disaster damage and loss assessment, there should be a social needs assessment so there is equal attention to the social needs of affected communities, including for alternative employment and livelihood opportunities. We must build back better and more resilient communities.
We must prevent disasters and be prepared in the coming of the next natural hazards. We must also ensure effective early warning systems that will facilitate early actions.
Aside from early evacuation before typhoons make landfall, coastal barangays must strengthen their natural protection from storm surges through mangrove reforestation and rehabilitation of coastal wetlands, among other initiatives.
We must rebuild communities that are better, stronger and more resilient to give our people not only hope for the present, but also confidence in the future. We must free our nation from the exhausting and costly cycle of rebuilding our communities every single time natural hazards occur by doing everything in our capacity to prevent disasters.