“They say that if you truly want to help a person, do not merely offer him fish. Rather, teach him how to fish.”
That was the exact same line that Dr. Noel Lansang, the Disaster Risk Reduction Management Chief of Quezon City, said as we were privileged to have an interview with him last Monday. Touching on the topic of the climate-change issues that the city is currently facing, and the solutions that concerns him, Dr. Lansang expressed his interest on the economic impact of calamities to the society.
“It’s not just about the temporary – about the relief goods,” he said. “It’s about giving people livelihood. It’s about developing the economic parts of a project so that the people won’t have to leave. You give them a housing project but they leave or sell it because they cannot maintain the expenses in the area. We have to focus on the economic part of things too. We have to plan things out.”
I particularly found this part of our interview very interesting. Certainly, the common ideas that we associate with ‘helping’ the victims of a calamity are limited to two words: ‘Relief goods’. But what comes after that? After we have sent plastics of rice, instant noodles and canned goods, do we expect the people to start rebuilding their city all on their own? That somehow, they would find the capital and the means to stand back up without a long-term kind of help from the government?
I am aware that this matter is being given attention now. What remains a riddle to me, however, is how we can develop a plan that can offer this kind of help to the victims.