By BONG D. FABE
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY—Five partner barangays of the Disaster Risk Reduction, Resiliency and Emergency Assistance Mission (DREAM) program of the Balay Mindanaw Group of NGOs (BMG) initiated various environmental activities during the commemoration of the International Day for Disaster Reduction (IDDR) last Oct. 13, 2013.
The activities ranged from video showing to raise the people’s awareness on the importance of identifying their vulnerabilities in making their community disaster resilient to tree planting to protect Mother Earth from the effects of climate change.
Barangay Macasandig conducted a tree planting activity to protect its environment from further degradation due to deforestation.
“Macasandig was the ground zero during Sendong [Tropical Storm Washi]. We were not prepared at that time. But when Pablo [Typhoon Bopha] came, we were ready. That was why we have zero casualty that time,” said Aaron Neri, barangay chairman.
Aside from conducting a tree planting activity, Neri also committed to help make Cagayan de Oro a disaster-resilient city through various advocacies and activities.
Shiela Lumbatan, secretary of Barangay Carmen who represented Chairwoman Rosemary Lorna Uy, expressed gratefulness to BMG and Xavier University for “providing the scientific and technical capabilities to our crude knowledge on disaster preparedness.”
Lumbatan said that even before Sendong struck on December 16, 2011, Carmen already had a function organization on disaster management which received for three consecutive years the Gawad Kalasag award.
“Disasters are inevitable. But we can reduce the risks by identifying the vulnerabilities in our communities,” she said.
Barangay Bonbon Chairman Allan Mabalacad recalled that just one week before Sendong, he initiated a disaster drill in the barangay involving rescuers and personnel.
“Some people even laughed at us why we were doing a rescue drill because never in our barangay’s history had there been a disaster,” he said. “The knowledge and skills we learned during the drill we were able to use when Sendong struck, resulting to zero casualty in our barangay,” he added.
Mabalacad said he is initiating a series of disaster preparedness trainings and activities in his barangay before he bows out of office on December to “prepare our people and the next generation of barangay leaders what to do during disasters.”
As different communities laid out their activities and plans in disaster preparedness and resiliency-building, City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (CDRRMC) chief Col. (retired) Mario Verner Monsanto reminded them to always include the persons with disabilities (PWDs) in their programs and plans.
“Let us always take into account that there are people in our community who are living with disability,” he added.
Sunday’s commemoration of the IDDR, which carried the theme “Living with Disability and Disasters,” was organized by BMG’s DREAM program in cooperation with the CDRRMC, partner barangays and organizations.
The IDDR celebration started in 1985 but it was only on December 22, 1989 that the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) through Resolution 44/236 designated the second Wednesday of October as IDDR during the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction (1990-1999).
On December 21, 2009, the UN General Assembly passed Resolution 64/200, which designated October 13 of every year thereafter as the IDDR with the objective to raise awareness on how people are taking action to reduce their risk to disasters.
The UN said that it chose to focus this year’s commemoration on PWDs because “persons living with disabilities are among the most excluded in society, and their plight is magnified when a disaster strikes. Not only are they less likely to receive the aid they need during a humanitarian crisis, they are also less likely to recover in the long-term.” (Bong D. Fabe)