Mar 152015
‘YOLANDA’ SURVIVOR Melvin Castro sits in the rubble of his home in Tacloban City where 18 of his family members were killed. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

‘YOLANDA’ SURVIVOR Melvin Castro sits in the rubble of his home in Tacloban City where 18 of his family members were killed. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

SENDAI, Japan—United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has vowed to “continue mobilizing the necessary resources” to make disaster risk reduction (DRR) everybody’s business in the Philippines and other disaster-prone countries.

Responding to a question by the Inquirer in a press briefing at the 3rd World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR) at the Sendai International Center in this northeastern Japanese city, Ban, however, admitted that “it would require some time” to make DRR a household word.

Ban said raising public and institutional awareness on DRR was doable. “That is why I established the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction. We have been meeting regularly and launching many initiatives.”

The agency, he noted, had initiated a “global campaign” which aims to enhance people’s awareness of DRR and its importance.

“But frankly speaking, [some] government leaders have not given much attention [to the issue] as they have been doing so much on economic policies. But once it happens, then we will have to mobilize all the resources to DRR issues,” Ban said.

Ban expressed “hope that with this conference and the [UN agency’s] continuing efforts, [both the public and private sectors] will be able to pay more attention and invest more wisely in DRR areas.”

Earlier, during the launch of the 2015 Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction in New York, Ban reported that “as the world is experiencing more frequent and more intense natural disasters, overall momentum is growing for a sustainable and disaster-resilient future.”

The report shows how investing in risk prevention pays high dividends while saving lives.

“Disaster risk reduction saves lives and cuts losses,” said Ban, adding, “We are working for a life of dignity for all. That means helping the poorest and most vulnerable people and countries manage disaster risk. When we do that we honor our pledge to leave no one behind.”

Margareta Wahlstrom, head of the Geneva-based UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction and Ban’s special representative for disaster risk reduction, called the UN report a “wake-up call for countries to increase their commitment to invest in small solutions to strengthen resilience to disasters.”

Sen. Loren Legarda, one of the leaders of the Philippine delegation to the WCDRR, told the Inquirer that “on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest, it’s only a 3 for the Philippines,” as far as the level of the people’s awareness of DRR was concerned.

“I think we have a long way to go,” she said.

In an interview, she lamented that “sometimes people forget about DRR and slide back. So constant reminder is needed.”

Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman, who heads the Philippine delegation, said they were doing their part “in making sure DRR becomes a household word by making sure the households [in disaster-hit areas] have access to the basic needs—food and nonfood items.”–Jerry E. Esplanada

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