The municipality of Saint Bernard is among the more than 100 cities that have signed up to the “Ten Essentials’ of the UN-ISDR global campaign “Making Cities Resilient: My City is Getting Ready”. In its commitment and advocacy on disaster risk management, disaster preparedness, and climate change adaptation, Mayor Rico Rentuza continues to take the pro-active stance with the full participation of its 30 villages which comprises the municipality. Together with its active partners – ACCORD/ASCEND and the GTZ - in the implementation of the DRM programme, the municipality of Saint Bernard has taken sustainable measures in the goal of reducing vulnerabilities and increasing capacities.
This year’s celebration of the International Disaster Reduction Day ran from 10 – 13 October 2010. Bikathlon, fun run and ‘walk for a cause’ activities were organized on October 10th. This was participated by the local government, the private sector, and NGOs. It was also meant to raise funds for the continuing education of the underprivileged children in Saint Bernard. Mayor Rentuza proceeded to contribute his advocacy on disaster risk reduction and management as he participated in the Gawad Kalinga Exposition and Anniversary in Manila last October 10-12, 2010. It is remembered that Gawad Kalinga is an active partner of the municipality of Saint Bernard as it continues to support the DRM program of Saint Bernard specifically in housing and livelihood.
On October 13th, more activities for the celebration were organized and successfully implemented. In line with the international theme “My City is Getting Ready!”, Saint Bernard adopted for its local theme “Andam na ang among Lungsod” or ‘my city is ready’. The day started with a walkathlon from the town center going to the mangrove protected area in the coastal village of Himbangan. The local government, youth, education and private sectors, people’s organizations and non-government organizations braved the morning chill, proceeded to the identified area and planted mangrove seedlings as mitigation for tsunami and storm surges.
A symposium followed after the mangrove planting at the village of Himbangan. The symposium focused on discussing topics like ‘the Link of DRR and Climate Change’, ‘the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction Management Act’, and updates of DRM activities in Saint Bernard. The ACCORD/ASCEND project in Saint Bernard was also discussed. Another major stakeholder, the GTZ, likewise participated in the symposium by giving a message on the important role of local governments.
In the third portion of the symposium, a commitment signing was made wherein the community expressed their commitment in making the town of Saint Bernard ready by affixing their signatures on a billboard. This commitment further strengthens the UNISDR Certificate of Commitment signed by Mayor Rico Rentuza in Bangkok last July 2010 (World Disaster Reduction Campaign Making Cities Resilient: My City is Getting Ready).
At the end of the 3-hour symposium, the UN Secretary-General’s message for the 2010 International Day for Disaster Reduction was read.
Still in celebration of the International Day for Disaster Reduction, another significant activity was organized by the local government of Saint Bernard in partnership with ACCORD/ASCEND and GTZ. A photo exhibit and information gallery was set up at the most frequently habited area in the town center. A ribbon-cutting at the gallery immediately followed after the symposium. Printed educational information on disasters, preparedness, and mitigation were displayed. Paintings and artwork of schoolchildren of the Guinsaugon landslide and DRM perspective were also displayed. Information about the World Campaign is also displayed for the information of visitors from the nearby municipalities who may be interested in signing up for the Global Campaign of Making Cities Resilient.
Rosalinda A. Araneta
Municipal Disaster Coordinating Council-Public Info
Municipality of Saint Bernard, Southern Leyte, Philippines
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