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Q.C. residents, NGO's, LGU assess risks, discuss disaster preparedness for 2012

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Bearing the bitter lessons brought by Typhoon Ondoy and Pedring, residents of Barangay Bagong Silangan, Barangay Capri, Barangay Gulod and Barangay Nagkaisang Nayon, along with their local government units, public school teachers, students and NGO's held a round table discussion today, Friday, December 2, 2011 at the Patio Ibarra in Quezon Avenue, Quezon City to discuss possible road maps for disaster preparedness for the coming year 2012.

The residents of the four barangays, belonging to District 2 of Quezon City, suffered from the wrath of Ondoy in 2009 and Typhoon Pedring last September 2011. “Many residents from the four barangays faced tremendous difficulties from the disasters brought by typhoons, having to deal with destruction to their lives and properties almost every year,” said Noel Colina, Executive Director of the Institute for Occupational Health and Safety Development (www.IOHSAD.org), a non-profit health and safety organization based in Manila and initiator of the gathering. “But this time around, the people are taking matters into their own hands and organizing themselves, building disaster preparedness committees to lessen their vulnerabilities to future calamities.”

According to the Global Climate Risk Index 2012, The Philippines is among the top 10 countries most severely affected by extreme weather events in the last two decades*. “Shifting our country to another place is out of question, that is why as citizens, we need to lessen our vulnerabilities by being informed and developing concrete plans of action to address disasters and climate change,” opined Colina. “The gathering of stakeholders here today is one step in the right direction.”

Colina described the potential of communities in addressing disasters. “The worst of times brings out the best of us. Just like Muelmar Magallanes, 18 years old, construction worker, who at the height of the floods brought by Ondoy, rescued more than 30 people before being engulfed by the ravaging flood waters. Today, our communities are taking the pledge to mitigate the need for supreme sacrifices like what Muelmar offered by teaching themselves community-based disaster management skills and tools, developing strength from the grassroots.”

The activity also featured the winners of the disaster preparedness inspired poster-making contest among high school students from Bagong Silangan High School and Novaliches High School. A total of 45 entries were submitted. The winning designs will be adopted for the various information materials of the project.

Aside from the gathering, IOHSAD will continue providing technical support to communities to build their capacities versus disasters. The “building disaster preparedness committees in Quezon City” project is in cooperation with the Office of Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista and supported by the Office of Gabriela Womens Party Representative Luzviminda Ilagan.

* Imelda Abano, PHL among 10 top climate-risk nations, http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/home/top-news/20051-phl-among-10-top-cl... (November 30, 2011).