‘We must build back better for more resilient communities’: Sen. Loren Legarda is determined to continue her efforts to reduce disaster risk in the Philippines.
By Andy McElroy
GENEVA, 13 November 2013 –
As the Philippines embarks on a massive recovery effort in the wake of super typhoon Haiyan, one of the country’s leading senators said it is vital that “we do not rebuild the risks again”.
Senator Loren Legarda lent her full support to ongoing efforts in search and rescue and emergency relief but also emphasized the need for a longer term vision of reconstruction that will reduce the vulnerability and exposure of communities to hazards.
“Affected citizens immediately need food, water, clothing, shelter and medicines but we must now also start addressing the need to rehabilitate affected communities,” said Sen. Legarda, who is Chair of the Senate Committee on Climate Change.
“It will not be enough to build people’s lives and communities to where they were before the disaster; we need to rebuild communities with the confidence that we are not rebuilding the risks again.
“We need to ensure that reconstruction of homes and infrastructure will be in safer ground following sound construction standards.”
Sen. Legarda, who is a Champion for the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), said equal attention should be paid to the social needs of affected communities, including alternative employment and livelihood opportunities.
“We must build back better for more resilient communities. We must prevent disasters and be prepared for the next natural hazards. We must also ensure effective early warning systems that will facilitate early actions,” she said.
“This disaster also tells us about the urgent need to save and care for our environment. It may be a great challenge to relocate all families living in coastal barangays to ensure that they are safe from storm surges during typhoons, but we must act to reduce the risks they face.”
Sen. Legarda is the author of the Philippines’ Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Law and recently filed a Senate resolution urging local government units to establish respective disaster risk reduction and management offices.
“We must free our nation from the exhausting and costly cycle of rebuilding our communities every single time natural hazards occur by doing everything in our capacity to prevent disasters,” Sen. Legarda said.