The aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda brought the buzzwords ‘disaster preparedness’ and ‘risk reduction’ back to the public’s attention. As with any disaster, fingers were pointed by the government, the media and the public at this official and that official for his or her supposed ineptness in preventing the catastrophic damages wreaked by the typhoon. Focus on the blame game has thus forced the public to narrow its perception of disaster preparedness to evacuation plans, evacuation centers and warning systems in the event of flooding brought about by heavy rains. A broader and more holistic view of disaster preparedness should be applied in order for us to appreciate what can be done to prevent the magnitude of damage that Typhoon Yolanda caused. This is where the idea of climate change adaptation comes in and how it can be applied so that risk is reduced and disasters can be managed.
The idea is premised on one now-established fact: our climate is changing at an increasing pace. I don’t know with everybody else, but I sure found December to be exceptionally warm. Nowadays, low pressure areas are forming near Mindanao instead of east of Luzon. This has caught the southern regions unawares, given that their history is not noted for the presence of many typhoons.
There is thus a pressing need to keep up with the changing times. I, together with my other classmates, am under the La Liga Policy Institute, a non-government organization that is primarily concerned with precisely this. The organization engages itself in analyzing how government makes use of its resources for climate change adaptation. It has also been doing on-ground intervention in specific municipalities and local government units in order to coordinate reforestation efforts in the Marikina watershed. On a macro level, it comments on the governments environmental policies and pursues its advocacy of climate change adaptation.
Through the documentation task assigned to our group, I was able to read about and learn of the efforts the organization has made in mainstreaming climate adaptation. Specifically, we are tasked with the documentation of the Alliance of Seven or A7, a coalition of municipalities and local government units that are encompassed by the Marikina watershed’s borders and which serve as partners in making sure that the watershed is properly rehabilitated and used. The alliance was created after Typhoon Ondoy, back in 2009, paralyzed Metro Manila with its floods. Research and analysis pointed to the underlying cause: deforestation of the watershed. Though our group was not assigned with actual, on-ground work in the watershed, the documentation focuses on compiling papers and references to the A7, thereby providing it with a summary of its history, objectives and structure as well as references to its past and current efforts.
Exposure to the organization has made me realize that there are so many ways for people, especially the youth, to get involved with such a worthy endeavor. After all, climate change adaptation is a critical investment for the future generations who will one day inherit the country’s infrastructure and its natural resources. As one of our moderators in the organization said, “The Philippines has a lot of problems. But we can solve them one by one.” Now, there is an urgent need to adapt.
It is both inspiring and assuring to hear these words as our country surely rebuilds its roads and its ports, the houses and the livelihoods, as well as its people and their lives.
-Danilo Lorenzo Atanacio (2012-57960)