DOES your local government unit have an evacuation center? A report in this paper yesterday asked this question. It called attention to the importance of local governments’ preparedness for disasters.
Our local governments’ role is important in building resilient communities. This could not be overemphasized. They should plan well and invest public resources wisely with reducing disaster risk as a goal. Building permanent evacuation centers is one practical step. We are regularly visited by typhoons that cause floods and landslides yet we do not have evacuation centers where people can take shelter? This is unacceptable.
Our local leaders must promote a culture of safety and resilience by engaging all stakeholders and sectors; raise awareness on disaster and climate risk at community and family level; and even improve local early warning and community preparedness systems.
Proactive strategies and the involvement of citizens are needed in strengthening our defenses against disasters such as typhoons, floods, earthquakes, even fires. The truth is that most natural hazards turn into disasters because of the lack of preparedness. Everyone should understand the risks we face and equip ourselves with preventive measures to lessen the impact of natural hazards.
Local government officials are in the best position to lead and engage those in their respective cities, municipalities, and provinces to establish and strengthen disaster preparedness measures. Disaster prevention starts long before a typhoon makes landfall, before an earthquake happens or before a volcano erupts.
In disaster risk reduction management, preparation is the name of the game.