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Philippines: Preparing communities for the next emergency

Source(s):  United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

In Agusan del Norte, you have helped empower the most vulnerable communities to prepare for and respond to future emergencies.

As one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world, the Philippines has weathered one storm after another. Year after year, Filipinos face the risk of typhoons, earthquakes, floods, and other natural disasters. Each calamity wreaks havoc in its own way – displacing families, damaging structures, and risking lives.

The men, women, and children of Buenavista, Agusan del Norte, know this all too well. At least once a year, they experience having to evacuate their homes due to the flooding from strong rains. From time to time, they also host internally displaced families who flee due to armed conflict in surrounding areas. Whether caused by calamity or conflict, Buenavista is no stranger to emergencies and displacement. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re fully prepared for the next one.

Out of the 25 barangays in Buenavista, only the Municipal Risk Reduction and Management (MDRRM) office has equipment for emergency and rescue. This is not enough. And even if some equipment is there, they know it takes more than emergency kits to prepare for a disaster. True disaster preparedness means entire communities – each barangay – is ready to respond to emergencies effectively. This means ensuring that rescue equipment is always available, and that community and health workers are knowledgeable.

After a series of consultations, the community proposed that they should start by empowering Barangay Poblacion, one of the central barangays in Buenavista. With the help of UNHCR Philippines in partnership with ACCORD, emergency kits, protective gear, and rescue equipment were handed over on 12 November 2019. Orientations on basic life support and use of equipment were also conducted. These trainings had the support of the entire community including the municipal government and volunteers.

Emma Cal, a barangay health worker, is one of the community members trained to respond to calamities. At the ripe age of 60, she is proud that she has acquired knowledge that will be useful to life and death scenarios.

“Women can also do what men can do. As a barangay health worker, I have attended trainings on health and first aid. It’s been a long time that we have wished for this rescue equipment and life-saving devices. Now it has finally arrived. These have encouraged us to perform our job,” she said.

As the Philippines continues to get hit by natural calamities every year, communities are also readying themselves to minimize casualties and ensure that those affected would be able to get back on their feet. It may be difficult to predict or prevent the next disaster from happening, but through the support of donors like you, UNHCR Philippines can help the most vulnerable people persons preposition their resources and respond to these emergencies.



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  • Publication date 28 Nov 2019

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