By Denis McClean
Geneva - The Head of the UN's Disaster Risk Reduction Office, UNISDR, Margareta Wahlström, today congratulated three Philippines Senators for leading an in-depth, two-day post-mortem with local leaders into the devastating losses caused to Mindanao island by Typhoon Sendong in December.
She said: "The Mindanao Declaration on Disaster Risk Reduction Priorities is a very honest and searching analysis of the man-made contributions to this disaster in which over 1,000 people lost their lives. It is very significant that this initiative has the support of three influential Senators, UNISDR's Regional Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction, Loren Legarda, Aquilino Pimentel III and Teofisio Guingona III. I would like to thank them for their efforts.
"It is important now to focus on recovery and ensure that Mindanao builds back better and that we take this opportunity to avoid re-creating the risks exposed by Typhoon Sendong. The priority now is to take care of the 4,981 families who have been left homeless. I met many of them on my visit last month and their views must be taken on board when it comes to implementing the Mindanao Declaration.
"Essentially, this declaration contains an eight-point plan of action which is an endorsement for the passage of laws which, if successfully implemented, will establish a permanent, independent disaster management and risk reduction agency and promote cooperation between local governments on these issues."
Senator Legarda said: "Leaders have the capacity to protect our people and secure future generations. The important starting point is political commitment, and our measure for success is more disaster-resilient development investments and, fundamentally, better and greater quality of life for our long-suffering people."
The Mindanao Declaration expresses particular concern that "logging, mining, unsustainable agriculture, and other similar land-use activities increase the vulnerability of many ecosystems and communities in our island."
It recognizes that "mitigation and adaptation measures by all sectors and levels of government have been inadequately implemented and weakly coordinated resulting in inefficient use of resources and lack of accountability."
In summary the eight point action plan highlights the following:
Knowledge: the improved use of technology to address gaps in knowledge and communication of existing knowledge on disaster hazards and the inclusion of disaster risk reduction in the school curriculum;
Emergency Preparedness and Response: addressing the needs of vulnerable and exposed communities e.g. adequate evacuation centers so that public buildings, including schools are not disrupted; regular drills; emergency family kits; simplified disaster response protocols; effective psycho-social interventions;
DRRM Plans: Adoption and implementation of disaster risk reduction and management plans at the regional, provincial, city, municipal and barangay levels;
Enforcement of laws: strict enforcement of environmental, natural resources, land-use laws, including prohibiting mining and logging in disaster-prone/vulnerable areas;
Ecosystem-based approach: river basin management and massive reforestation including planting mangrove forests;
National Legislation: Passing of laws that will establish a permanent, independent disaster management and risk reduction agency and promote inter-local government cooperation on DRR-CCA;
Institutional mechanisms: setting up the appropriate institutional mechanisms for disaster risk reduction implementation, including institutionalizing command systems at all levels;
Implementation: capacity building, resource mobilization strategies and mechanisms to implement these priorities.