New ‘Phoenix’ heads for ‘Yolanda’ areas

By on July 4, 2014


Climate Change Commission (Photo: www.emb.gov.ph)
Climate Change Commission (Photo: www.emb.gov.ph)

MANILA — Climate Change Commission (CCC) spearheaded launching Thursday in Metro Manila a disaster risk reduction-oriented program for recovery, resilience and sustainable inclusive development in areas ravaged by typhoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan) last year.

Dubbed “Resilience and Preparedness for Inclusive Development” (RAPID), the program targets achieving such goals by helping strengthen capacity of local government units (LGUs) and communities concerned to manage risks from and adapt to impacts of climate change.

“We may be the mecca of disasters but don’t want another ‘Yolanda’ to happen,” said CCC Vice-Chairperson Lucille Sering at the late afternoon launch.

The Australian government and UNDP are supporting CCC in implementing RAPID.

CCC considers RAPID its new “Project Climate Twin Phoenix,” the undertaking this agency commenced in 2012 to help improve adaptive capacity of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan cities, as well as Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental provinces.

“Phoenix” also helped mainstream climate change adaptation (CCA) and disaster risk reduction (DRR) in those areas based on vulnerability assessment findings there.

Storm “Sendong” (international name: Washi) devastated Cagayan de Oro and Iligan cities in 2011.

Typhoon “Pablo” (international name: Bopha) ravaged Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental in 2012.

All four areas are in Mindanao which authorities haven’t identified as areas prone to tropical cyclones.

Occurrence of “Sendong” and “Pablo” there fueled concern about the changing climate and raised urgency for adaptation and disaster preparedness.

Among impacts of climate change is increasing onslaught of weather extremes like violent tropical cyclones, authorities noted.

Like “Phoenix,” RAPID will assist 12 LGUs affected by “Yolanda” so these can also undertake disaster risk and vulnerability assessments, update respective land use plans and building codes and establish early warning systems.

Those LGUs are Tacloban City and Palo, Tanauan, Dulag, Tolosa, Mayorga, MacArthur and Abuyog municipalities in Leyte province, Basey and Marabut municipalities in Western Samar province, as well as Lawaan and Balangiga municipalities in Eastern Samar province.

RAPID will also train local partners and community leaders in building up their capacity for responding to and managing respective risks.

“A single disaster can undermine many years of hard work,” noted Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Deputy Secretary Ewen McDonald, highlighting need for CCA and DRR.

At the launch, he assured Australia’s continuing support for government’s nationwide CCA and DRR bid.

Money spent on CCA and DRR is investment in helping prevent future disasters, he noted.

The Australian government reported earlier providing P172 million for RAPID to help “Yolanda” areas recover.

Following further needs assessment in the typhoon-affected areas, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop announced Tuesday (July 1) an additional contribution of P120 million for RAPID.

Contribution to RAPID is part of Australia’s P1.45 billion long-term recovery package and is in addition to the P1.6 billion immediate humanitarian assistance to the Philippines following onslaught of “Yolanda”, the Australian Embassy in the Philippines said.

“The Australian government is very pleased to support thePhilippines,” said Australian Ambassador Bill Tweddell during the launch.

UN Resident Coordinator in the Philippines Luiza Carvalho also assured the international body’s support for RAPID.

RAPID’s launch “is a symbol of hope” as it shows disasters are preventable, she said at the event.

Specific target outputs authorities earlier identified for RAPID are climate and disaster risk and vulnerability assessment, priority preparedness and mitigation actions as well as awareness-raising and capacity-building.

The target outputs also include mainstreaming climate and disaster risks in land use and development plans aside from building resilience of the poor and vulnerable.

Earlier at the event, CCC and its partners officially unveiled several products developed under the “Phoenix” project.

Such products include hazard maps for the “Phoenix” areas, supplemental guidelines for mainstreaming CCA and DRR in LGUs’ respective comprehensive land use plans (CLUPs) and a geo-referenced Climate Exposure database (ClimEX.db).

CLUPs identify land uses in the area under an LGU’s jurisdiction to help guard against uncontrolled development there.

“ClimEX.db is a tool designed to help communities and cities plan their land use and development while incorporating preventive measures to adapt to effect of climate change in their localities,” said CCC.

CCC noted ClimEX.db provides geo-referenced data on population, buildings, infrastructure and economic activities of areas which are considered high-risk for flooding or which are predisposed to impacts of climate change.

Aside from onslaught of weather extremes, experts earlier cited sea level and temperature rise as climate change’s impacts on the Philippines.