The better build

KIWI PERSPECTIVE - Reuben Levermore (The Philippine Star) - July 11, 2013 - 12:00am

During my 18 months in the Philippines, among my most humbling experiences have been visits to areas struck by typhoons. Whether talking to locals displaced by flash flooding in Cagayan de Oro, or those that were fortunate to escape the rock slide in Barangay Andap during Typhoon Pablo, I have seen that Filipinos can be very resilient faced with hardship.

Those missions also revealed the scale of devastation wrought by nature and the complexity of the recovery effort. Among other concerns, important decisions will need to be taken about where and how to rebuild communities so that they are less exposed in future. If there is opportunity in adversity, then these disasters are a chance to “build back better.”

That mantra is also driving the effort to rebuild the central city in Christchurch, New Zealand’s second largest city.Christchurch suffered severe earthquakes in September 2010 and February 2011.

I visited Christchurch in May, a city in which I attended high school and university, and where my father lives.The Central Business District, having been all but demolished, is now showing the green shoots of recovery. What struck me even more than the eeriness of the fallen Anglican cathedral, however, was the determination and purpose among the city’s people and its leaders. Understandably, not everyone in the City agrees with sensitive decisions about what and where to rebuild, but these decisions are being made on the basis of expert advice, and are being implemented with purpose. Roger Sutton, the CEO of the Christchurch Earthquake Recovery Authority, told us that a major lesson from the earthquake had been the importance of well-functioning institutions and effective coordination between different government agencies, as well as with the private sector.

Christchurch, the tourist gateway to New Zealand’s beautiful South Island, is open for business. But the better build has some way to go. The plan for Christchurch is impressive, but like all plans, it will mean little if it is not realised. Sutton knows that this will continue to take a unified effort - authorities working together with the support of the public, and investors buying into the plan. The Philippines is already a part of this recovery, with New Zealand construction companies turning to this country for workers.

It is the same unity of purpose that will be required to protect affected regions in Mindanao against future typhoons, and also in Cagayan and Iloilo provinces which are located on major river basins and vulnerable to flooding. In those provinces, New Zealand has partnered with the UN Development Programme and the Philippine Climate Change Commission to launch Project Rebuild in the past week. This project will support municipal authorities to better safeguard lives, homes and crops in Cagayan and Iloilo.

Recovering from a disaster as devastating as Pablo, or even the earthquakes in Christchurch, are enormous undertakings. But the commitment shown to date by leaders such as Secretary to the Cabinet Rene Almendras, Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman, and Climate Change Secretary Lucille Sering, as well as provincial leaders, gives hope that in recovering from disaster, lives may be spared in the future.  Building back better, whether in Mindanao or Christchurch, means being prepared for the day when disaster strikes again.

(Reuben Levermore is the Ambassador of New Zealand)

 

AMBASSADOR OF NEW ZEALAND BARANGAY ANDAP CABINET RENE ALMENDRAS CAGAYAN AND ILOILO CENTRAL BUSINESS DISTRICT CHRISTCHURCH CHRISTCHURCH EARTHQUAKE RECOVERY AUTHORITY CLIMATE CHANGE SECRETARY LUCILLE SERING DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME AND THE PHILIPPINE CLIMATE CHANGE COMMISSION MINDANAO NEW ZEALAND
  • Latest
  • Trending
Latest
Recommended
Are you sure you want to log out?
X
Login

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

FORGOT PASSWORD?
SIGN IN
or sign in with