Albay’s climate change program becomes model for other provinces

  • 10 March 2016, Thursday

Source: The Philippine Star
11 Feb 2016

LOS BAÑOS, Laguna, Philippines – Albay’s disaster risk management and climate change adaptation has become a model for other provinces in crafting their own.

 “The risk reduction strategies of Albay have been effective in securing the province’s ‘zero casualty’ status for 16 years until the year 2011,” said Gov. Joey Sarte Salceda.

 Private investments surged, and the province was acknowledged to have the fastest growth among Bicol’s other provinces, he said. Furthermore, they were able to accomplish the United Nations-Millennium Development Goals (UN-MDG) ahead of the target year, 2015.

 Salceda discussed his province’s strides in a report titled “Adapting to Climate Change: Strategies of Albay, Philippines.”

 A synthesis of the report (prepared together with Amy Christine Cruz and Dhannica Amor Domingo) was published by the Los Baños-based Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture in its “Agriculture and Development Notes.”

 Salceda, the first UN Global Senior Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation, said that two national laws on DRR-CCA have been enacted based on the Albay model. These are Republic Act 10121 or “The Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010” and RA 9729 or “The Climate Change Act of 2009.”

 Bicol’s second largest province, 2,552-square-kilometer Albay has been known as the “Vatican of Disasters of the Philippines” because of the many typhoons, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, and landslides that hit it most of the year.

 “As a result,” Salceda said, “the people of Albay have been vulnerable to persistent poverty, low economic income, and climatic and geological hazards.”

 In recognition of these problems, the Albay provincial government has crafted a strategy guided by the UN-MDG and focused on reducing the province of disaster risk and vulnerability.

 Institutions, among them the Center for Initiatives on Research and Climate Change Action, were established to handle matters of climate change adaptation and mitigation.

 Partnerships with other institutions – such as the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration or PAGASA and UP Los Baños – were nurtured.

 Some of the risk reduction practices employed in Albay are land use planning, zoning, and risk mapping; geostrategic and engineering interventions; social preparations, and capacity buildup and disaster responses.

 Albay incorporated science-based adaptation practices as its first line of defense against disaster.

 Through Albay’s geostrategic intervention strategy which identified the hazard-prone areas, the government was able to redirect the centers of business and residential activities toward safer locations. Example is the relocation of more than 10,000 households in high-risk areas.

 Projects that need to be done through engineering interventions include flood control for flood plains, watershed protection and reforestation, and irrigation rehabilitation.

 “A large source of funds for these engineering interventions comes from World Bank’s country assistance program with its non-government counterpart,” Salceda said.

 Social preparation programs include continuous training and education on dealing with climate change and other disasters. Training on evacuation and community kitchen management, mountain survival and compass reading, and community risk mapping and continued planning are periodically held.

 Through games and magic shows, children are also taught disaster risk reduction and its importance.

 The government likewise closely coordinates with PAGASA. A well-equipped regional weather bureau has been established in Legazpi City, Albay’s capital. Moreover, a warning communication protocol where 15,750 SIM cards have been distributed to village officials was developed.

 Albay, Salceda said, also has mobility assets such as ambulances, rubber boats, helicopters, passenger trucks, and fire trucks that could evacuate 160,000 people per day if needed. These vehicles were supplied by the LGUs, provincial governments, national agencies and private organizations.

 “Protocols for evacuation are well established and a steady budget for calamities is maintained,” he said.