NRC: Proof of performance

FILIPINO WORLDVIEW - Roberto R. Romulo - The Philippine Star

Last week, I wrote about National Resilience Council (NRC) and Zuellig Family Foundation and their role in partnerships for capacity building for local government officials. Today, I would like to illustrate what NRC has done which should be a trend setter for LGUs. Early next week, I will write about Zuellig Family Foundation’s performance.

The foundations of resilience planning and investment are sound climate and disaster risk assessments and a systems approach to addressing hazard, exposure and vulnerability. In the case of NRC, among the best examples of translating these into action are the cities of Iloilo, Ormoc and Cagayan de Oro.

Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas

In Iloilo City, the NRC brought together the Manila Observatory, Ateneo de Manila’s Coastal Cities at Risk Team, UP Visayas and the City Planning and Development Office, the Disaster Risk Management Office and the private sector to help develop a Comprehensive Land Use Plan that addressed not only the natural hazards they face, but the social vulnerabilities that drive up their disaster risk.

Led by a local chief executive who believes in moving science into action, Iloilo City is the most “sensed” city in the country today. NRC introduced the city to its international partner, the National Science and Technology Center (NCDR) of Taiwan.

After an exposure trip to the NCDR office in Taipei, rain gauges and earthquake early warning instruments were installed across the city. Data from these, combined with the automated weather stations installed by the Manila Observatory in Shell gas stations around the city are able to support decision-making for early warning and future investments in lifeline infrastructure and a sustainable local economy. The Iloilo Business Council, corporations like Alliance Global and SM and universities like John B. Lacson Maritime University and Central Philippines University are doing their share in hosting instruments, providing emergency shelter and relief and in investing in engineering that manages flood hazards in the city.

By applying the spatial and social analytical tools provided by NRC partners Xavier University and EpiMetrics, Iloilo was able to analyze and map Covid-19 and target vulnerable populations to prioritize vaccinations in order to contain the pandemic.

Ormoc City Mayor Richard Gomez

Ormoc City has a dynamic and responsive mayor and local resilience council team. To build on these, NRC formalized a partnership between the City and Energy Development Corp. that aligns the corporation’s nature-based solutions to hazard mitigation with the disaster risk reduction policies that enhance the environmental resilience and sustainable local economy of the city. Through the joint initiative of NRC, Visayas State University and the DTI, MSMEs and large corporations in the city have also successfully completed a business continuity training program to ensure their preparedness against all hazards. Ormoc City was extremely well-prepared for Typhoon Odette and in partnership with EDC and other business and civic groups, it served as a center for organizing relief and response to the battered municipalities in southern Leyte. The city is now preparing a proposal for the notoriously difficult to access People’s Survival Fund with the technical assistance of the Oscar M. Lopez Center.

Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno

Learning from disasters like Typhoon Sendong, Cagayan de Oro City, in partnership with Xavier University pioneered the use of geospatial tools in analyzing disaster risk from “ridge-to-reef.” These have supported Mayor Oscar Moreno and his Resilience Team in making evidence-informed decisions about business recovery and school openings during the time of the pandemic. The web-based dashboard informed by epidemiological analytics, assisted the City’s Technical Working Group on Area Response and Recovery Plan Building in action planning for the emergency, medium and long term. This allowed the city to prioritize investments including health asset development considering the impact of Covid-19 and future hazards. Building on its CDO experience, Xavier University’s Engineering Resource Center and its social outreach programs have delivered technical training on web-based mapping of exposure and vulnerability to COVID-19 and other natural hazards to NRC’s LGU, academic and CSO partners.

In support of effective risk governance, Iloilo, Ormoc, Cagayan de Oro and all of NRC’s local government partners recently received additional vaccine supplies from the SM group through the intervention of the chairman of SM Prime’s executive committee, Mr. Hans T. Sy.

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