Yolanda: What could have been done better?

READERS VIEWS (The Freeman) - December 9, 2019 - 12:00am

Typhoon Yolanda that struck in 2013 caused massive destruction to Eastern Visayas. It was one of the most unforgettable disasters in the Philippines. Today, however, we believe discussions and consequent actions should focus on preparation. Kathryn Reid from World Vision describes Typhoon Yolanda as one of the most powerful typhoons of all time. Officials from the local government estimated that Tacloban City was 90 percent destroyed as it affected more than 14 million people across 44 provinces, killing more than 6,000 people and leaving 1,800 missing. Moreover, there were 1.1 million houses partially or totally damaged.

These numbers remind us that in cases like disaster risks, the government should revise and reassess their frameworks. We identified some of the issues from the incident such as information dissemination, inefficient response team, and scarcity of goods. We aim to know these following questions: How can the information dissemination system improve? What measures to be done to provide an efficient response team? How can the management of goods and donations be improved?

After five years, our government has implemented and published plans regarding an improved disaster risk reduction system. The following aims and progress mentioned are based from Ricardo Jalad’s statement during the sixth session of The Global Platform for the Disaster Risk Reduction this 2019.

To strengthen the efficiency of the response teams, the government aims to push for the national legislation of a more responsive DRR Law that will provide creation of an institution with an adequate mandate, authority, and capacity to lead and harmonize the country’s DRR and resiliency efforts. We think that the implementation should be extended to be a local level system because local officials have a vital role in service coverage and distribution since they are more accessible by their constituents. Local officials should be trained to have essential skills for response for needs assessments.

In terms of information dissemination, the importance of risk-informed national and local development planning and policy formulation are recognized, as they are creating a robust, science-based and unified disaster risk information system that is accessible to all stakeholders.

Hopefully, this system can successfully solve the signal problem. They have successfully localized the key messages of the Sendai Framework by translating these from English to Filipino and ensuring that these reach even the most vulnerable communities. We recommend that the Filipino translation will not only limit to Tagalog or to major languages only because there are remote areas that may or may not understand these major languages.

In the most recent official statement published by the government, there are no mentions of management of goods and donations yet. This is an important task that should not be overlooked. It should be thoroughly planned out and include a transparency of funds. A good budgeting plan ensures the efficacy of the execution of the tasks and the sustainability of resources.

In summary, the national government should develop and institutionalize a system for the municipalities to assist each other in disaster risk reduction and management throughout the entire spectrum of prevention and mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery.

Also, they should prioritize to equip all local disaster management councils and offices with its needed resources and skills. In terms of information dissemination, enhancing inclusivity is a good start that will ensure the safety of all.

A science-based program that would focus on a communication system that does not rely on telecommunication signal alone would be highly beneficial. However, budgeting and donation processes should be given more importance as it is very crucial in terms of plan executions and resources management. If we trace the groundwork from typhoon Yolanda’s time to this present age, there is a significant progress, but this should not limit to what it is now. Hopefully, we can finally see Filipinos get accustomed not only to a culture of resilience but also preparation.

Natasha Nicole Rivera

Liera Mae Y. Casquejo

Political Science students

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