Calabanga, Camarines Sur - More than 1,200 community residents of barangay Cagsao in Calabanga municipality displayed Saturday their evacuation skills through a community drill. At the sound of the alarm, barangay Chair Ramon Sta. Ana led the barangay disaster coordinating council and residents of seven high risk zones in the village to evacuate to safe areas and to undertake other emergency response tasks. The municipal disaster coordinating council acted as the control group for the evacuation drill.
The safe areas or evacuation sites were pre-identified in the community’s contingency plan and includes the school and privately-owned houses made of sturdy materials. The MDCC control group led by Mayor Evelyn S. Yu introduced situations based on a scenario unknown to the barangay. The barangay disaster coordinating council and community responded to the unfolding scenario based on the functions and procedures detailed in the community contingency plan.
The evacuation drill is the latest in a series of activities carried out by the residents of barangay Cagsao, including trainings on community-based disaster risk management and disaster preparedness, and collectively updating their contingency plan. Through the trainings, the barangay reviewed their worst-case scenario, which was their basis in updating their contingency plan. The drill aims to test the effectiveness of the community’s contingency plan, particularly the early warning system and community response, and the evacuation plan. It will also check how the Barangay Disaster Coordinating Council (BDCC) will function and the School Disaster Risk Reduction Committee will function and coordinate actions in an emergency situation.
Cagsao’s disaster risk reduction activities are part of the ACCORD Project which is being implemented in Calabanga and four other municipalities by the local government units (LGUs) in partnership with CARE Nederland, Corporate Network for Disaster Response and Agri-Aqua Development Coalition, and funded by the European Commission Humanitarian Aid department. European Commission funding for the current phase of ACCORD is EUR420,000, or a total EUR760,750 for two project phases.
SMART Philippines personnel led by Ms. Novaleeh Concepcion, CNDR President Alberto Lim and CARE Nederland Representative Celso B. Dulce, Jr. observed the evacuation drill. The SMART personnel are in Calabanga for a cross visit organized by the ACCORD Project to learn more about community-based disaster risk reduction and to firm up partnerships in small-scale mitigation, early warning systems, and climate change adaptation projects. SMART has already committed to support mangrove reforestation activities in Calabanga. Other CNDR members are looking at specific project proposals developed by barangays participating in the ACCORD project.
The drill was highly successful based on the feedback from observers which also included officials from other Calabanga barangays. In terms of community participation alone, the actual number that mobilized exceeded the target set by the barangay disaster coordinating council.
“The drill is part of the disaster risk reduction festival the LGU and the ACCORD Project has organized to mark national disaster consciousness month. It is our way of celebrating accomplishments in disaster reduction,” said Mayor Yu. “It is also a means for creating greater awareness, and action, among the general population, including children about the challenges of protecting our lives and livelihoods from disasters,” concluded the Calabanga Mayor.
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