SONA 2014: More work needed in inclusive risk reduction
Following his fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA), we, a consortium of international aid agencies that has been working to realise inclusive, community-based disaster risk reduction (ICBDRR) in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, had hoped President Benigno Simeon Aquino III reported extensively on his administration’s state of risk reduction efforts both in terms of rehabilitation and recovery of Haiyan-affected areas and the broader disaster risk reduction (DRR) policies.
Nine months since the strongest typhoon to ever make landfall hit the country, thousands are still living in tents in coastal areas. When Glenda hit the Visayas two weeks ago, more than 7,000 people in Haiyan-affected areas sought cover anew. Back in April 2014, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) already cited that only 53 out of 643 or 8 per cent of evacuation centres can be used in Eastern Samar.
These communities are being exposed to tremendous risk and uncertainty. They urgently need to know when permanent relocation will move forward, what other settlement options they have, and what the implications will be for their livelihoods. They must be consulted in ongoing and meaningful ways to ensure any settlement measures represent truly durable solutions.
In this respect, the SONA would have been an opportunity for the President to update the nation on its plans for recovery and the critical role that DRR will play in ensuring that we truly “build back better”. The Reconstruction Assistance for Yolanda (RAY) plan was released by the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) in December 2013 but is now woefully out of date as the transition from emergency relief to recovery and rehabilitation is underway. Further, the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) Post-Disaster Needs Assessment, which is key to strengthening transparency and accountability, has yet to be released. These documents are critical to better understand the substance of a few LGU’s “rehabilitation and recovery plans”, which the President said he recently approved.
With a clear trend of increasingly frequent and intense natural hazards, the government must lay out a strengthened commitment to enacting and implementing policies that increase our nation’s resilience to disasters. Renewed efforts and scaled-up resourcing are needed following the massive impact of typhoon Haiyan, which exposed weaknesses in existing prevention, preparedness and mitigation efforts. In particular, it further highlighted the disproportionate impact such a disaster has on women, children, persons with disabilities and isolated communities. The Gender-Based Violence Area of Responsibility, led by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has previously observed the limited security, inadequate bathing and latrine facilities and lack of privacy in evacuation centres as well as the limited number of female police officers in hard-hit areas. A recent Oxfam paper also suggested the continuing vulnerability of women and children whose families are still struggling to find sources of livelihood.
Hence, the administration must iterate its policy direction on DRR, ensuring that the sunset review of Republic Act 10121 or the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction Management Act of 2010 truly strengthens the impact of this law at regional, provincial and local levels, among others. We urge the President to lay down his commitment to ICBDRR, including the strategies and mechanisms that will ensure the meaningful participation, protection, and much-needed livelihoods of vulnerable individuals and families.
29 July 2014 For immediate release
Rhea Catada, +63 9173654649 , RCatada@oxfam.org.uk
Nina Somera, +63 9177014286, MSomera@oxfam.org.uk
For interviews with Justin Morgan, country director of Oxfam, project lead of SURGE and/ or Jenny Lyn Hernandez, project manager of SURGE
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