On 26 December 2004, the Indian Ocean was hit by one of the strongest tsunamis the world has ever experienced that it left enormous destruction to 11 countries which destroyed properties and killed thousands in a flash. That fateful day has taught the world of natural hazard events like tsunami’s can hit any time and without remorse.
However, the lives that were lost on that day was not put in vain when 168 countries signed the Hyogo Framework for Action that pushes for Disaster Risk Reduction as a framework that will guide communities all over the world in building their resilience against natural and human induced hazards.
The world has also recognized that climate change have exacerbated natural hazard events which put rich and poor communities susceptible. With this, the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction has started to advocate and urge countries to implement DRR and start building their resilience.
A film showing followed on the experiences of Latin America, Africa and Bangladesh on Community Managed Disaster Risk Reduction (CMDRR). The stories came from the experiences of Cordaid partners which are working on CMDRR that IIRR co-pioneered in 2006 as a global program.
A presentation on CMDRR was given by Jhun Servano, Intern of IIRR on Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change. Servano asserted that CMDRR is an emerging framework and tool on development to guide development practitioners and communities in building their resilience to respond to the impacts of climate change which is translated into hydro-meteorological hazards. An assessment exercise followed to initially guide participants on how to identify and characterize climate related hazards.
Mr. Benhur Villoria, IIRR Program Specialist on Agriculture and Natural Resource Management gave a presentation on the significance of Sustainable Agriculture as a response to climate change considering the fact that both global warming and agriculture have extreme impacts on each other. He shared that current developments towards industrial agriculture brought about by the Green Revolution in the 70s only exacerbated the production of greenhouse gases (GHGs). It encouraged the extensive use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides (byproducts of fuel production) together with new sterile and mono-cropped hybrid plant varieties. Aside from consuming a lot of energy and its byproducts, it also led to the clearing of forestlands which diminished the capacity of the soil and vegetation as carbon sinks.
Industrial agriculture also discouraged the traditional practice of seed storage and seed exchanges among farmers. It contributed a lot to the release of GHGs like carbon dioxide and methane to the atmosphere. In return, climate change has brought about disruptions in agriculture production through extreme rainfall/flooding, droughts and frequent incidence of pest and diseases. Sustainable agriculture is hoped will reverse these trends by returning back traditional and proven agriculture practices that are diverse, environmentally friendly, socio-culturally acceptable, safe, productive and climate change resilient.
IIRR is in the forefront of promoting SA technologies primarily through the promotion of the Bio-Intensive Gardening (BIG). Maggie Rosimo, IIRR Program Specialist on Learning Community Program and Eco-DRR lead the soft launching of the “Safe School to Offset Vulnerabilities and Increase Empowerment of Children” or SOLVE Project which is a new program of IIRR that is pushing for safe school and is initially funded by Metrobank Foundation, Inc. SOLVE will be piloted at IIRR’s learning community in Ticao Island in Masbate.
According to Ms. Rosimo, SOLVE aims to build the resiliency of the children against natural and health hazards as well as strengthening the capacities of teachers and parents to reinforce resilience. SOLVE Project also aims to build disaster resistant classroom and promotes environmental rehabilitation.
As part of the survivability and readiness framework of the CMDRR, Jun Servano presented another new program of IIRR, the Community Emergency Response Team or CERT. During the presentation, Gonzalo shared that the purpose of CERT is to capacitate local communities and organizations on community led emergency response to save more lives while waiting for professional responders to come. CERT, according to Gonzalo, involves a wide array of skills on disaster preparedness such as earthquake management and contingency planning. It also involves skills on medical, fire suppression, light search and rescue and disaster psychology.
As a gesture of commitment, the participants of the forum were asked to list down at least 3 personal actions that will contribute in the response to mitigate the impacts of climate change. The event culminated with the 350 human formation of the participants which coincides to the Global Climate Work Party organized by 350.org.
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