Press Release
October 20, 2010

Efficient Early Warning and Early Action are Crucial in Reducing Disaster Losses, Disaster - Resilient Cities Must Be Continuous Goal - Legarda

Senator Loren Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Climate Change reminded that, "The early warning system, to be effective, must translate into public alertness, preparedness and responsiveness. It is encouraging to note that as typhoon 'Juan" raged through significantly, less lives were lost compared to the previous storms and typhoons because of heightened public awareness and action."

"Typhoon Juan, the strongest storm the Philippines has experienced in four years, is consistent with the trend that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) identified in its 4th Assessment Report which stated that there is more than 90% chance that things will get worse in the future - with stronger typhoons, heavy rainfall and other weather extremes."

"In reducing disaster risks and adapting to climate change, effective early warning system and early action must be at the heart of our efforts. Reducing disaster risks is a matter of utmost importance to the country, where calamities abound and are most likely to worsen."

Legarda urged that making disaster resilient cities, towns and municipalities ought to be the continuous goal, where the whole populations live in homes and neighborhoods served by good infrastructure (piped water, good sanitation and drainage, all weather roads, electricity), provided with efficient services (health care, schools, garbage collection, emergency services), and provided with structures that meet sensible building codes where there are no informal settlements on flooded plains or steep slopes.

"The local government units must be supported with the necessary resources and have the capability to organize itself before, during and after a natural disaster. Ideally, the people participate, decide and plan for their city together with the local government authorities."

"The central campaign of the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) for this year, 'Making Cities Resilient,' enjoins cities and local governments to get ready, reduce the risks and become resilient to disasters."

"Rising urban populations and increased density, weak urban governance, unplanned urban development, inappropriate construction and disregard for the environment all put cities at risk."

"The challenge is to help make cities resilient to hazards because losses due to disasters are always greatly felt in the local level. There must be competent and accountable local governments that cater to sustainable urbanization, with active participation from all stakeholders."

Concerned about the farmers and losses in their crops, Legarda also recommended that "Focus must also be on the socio-economic development of the community. Not only do we want to protect human lives, but also socio-economic gains and opportunities. We must extend better support for our farmers, whose livelihoods are at the mercy of weather fluctuations."

"The country's agricultural adaptation program must ensure more investments in agricultural research and infrastructure, improved water governance and land use policies, a strengthened extension system that will assist farmers to achieve economic diversification and access to credit," Legarda concluded.

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