Philippine Information Agency (PIA)
Makati - Recent natural disasters resulting in high costs to lives and property call for exigent collective measures.
Ms. Margareta Wahlstrom, top UN disaster risk reduction official, said in a press conference this afternoon at the New World Hotel in Makati that, “There is no time to lose as all disaster risk reduction reports indicate that the Philippines and many other Asian countries will suffer from more flash floods and droughts in the near future.”
The statement was not meant to frighten people but rather for people to take warnings seriously. “Awareness,” she said, “will help people make decisions.”
Wahlstrom, here for a five-day visit, will meet with donors, the private sector including business, local executives, and government officials to push for more concrete disaster reduction in planning, even down to the primary unit – the barangay; an action already being undertaken by government.
Mitigating measures involve the retrofitting of certain structures like bridges, buildings, the rail systems to withstand the severe onslaught of typhoons, earthquake, and wind. These will need big funding, hence the need to talk to funding agencies, to local officials, and the private sector.
Communication, or rather, the plainest language possible, should be used in warning people. During Sendong, it was revealed, that weather bulletins from PAGASA were given out on of dire warnings which were ignored. Wahlstrom said, “that the ‘last mile’ of the alert system - the translation of warning information into plain language for protective action by communities should be used.”
Information should also be given on water volume and wind speed.
At present, risk reduction measures are being undertaken nationwide, but it seems that the level of awareness of the people must always be maintained to prevent human and economic losses.
(MDY – PIA Central)