By Brigitte Leoni
Bangkok - A series of radio and television commercials aimed at educating and sensitizing millions of viewers in the Philippines about disaster risk reduction have just begun airing throughout the disaster prone south-east Asian nation.
Launching the commercials last week, Senator Loren Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Climate Change and UNISDR's Regional Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation in Asia-Pacific, said "Early warning and early action should be at the heart of our efforts to build communities' resilience to disasters.
"These commercials will help people understand the risks they face. It is an awareness tool to remind everyone that natural hazards need not become disasters," Legarda added.
The Philippines is visited by at least 20 typhoons a year, and its location right along the Pacific Ring of Fire exposes the country to the impacts of many earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
According to UNISDR, the Philippines tops the list of countries affected by disasters in 2011. A total of 33 disasters ravaged various parts of the country last year, resulting in the death of scores of people and the destruction of millions of pesos worth of agricultural produce, key infrastructure and property. The worst disaster in 2011 was Typhoon Sendong which hit Mindanao on 17 December and took the lives of 1,430 people.
"TV and radio are great media that can reach millions of people in one go," said Margareta Wahlström, the top UN disaster risk reduction official who is supporting the initiative. "UNISDR will support the project and hopes that this initiative will stimulate other TV stations and that more countries will follow the example set in the Philippines - a country which is already very advanced in disaster risk reduction policies.
"Raising awareness and education are as important as mitigation measures and the best way to prepare future generations to invest more in disaster risk reduction and build resilience", said Wahlström.
The programme produced in Filipino and in collaboration with government TV and radio networks as well as various privately-owned radio stations, will air at least three times a day and aims to reach more than a million viewers and listeners daily.
Watch the infomercials (Tagalog)