YOUR MARCH peace mail from the PHILIPPINES
I live in a small town on Salvacion Island in the eastern Philippines. Due to our location, we have experienced many typhoons. For years, locals would say to each other “we’ll be fine, we are used to it -we can manage and survive.” But we had never experienced a ‘super typhoon’ to understand the damage it could do. So when Typhoon Haiyan hit, and despite government warnings, people didn’t properly prepare with shelter for their families and protection for their homes.
58 people on Salvacion Island were killedduring Typhoon Haiyan. In the aftermath, people were in shock, they wandered around crying silently. They didn’t know what to do or where to find food. Everything was destroyed. After two days without any help, relief finally came via food and clean water deliveries from ships and airdrops from helicopters.
After seeing the devastation from Haiyan and seeing my friends and family suffer so much, I realised that I have a big obligation to my community – I can help them to start learning about disaster risk management.
Thanks to your kind gifts, Act for Peace’s partner, the National Council of Churches of the Philippines (NCCP), started explaining the Disaster Risk Reduction program. Many people were unsure about what they could do but they wanted to learn because of the terrible destruction of Typhoon Haiyan.
The training we received taught the us importance of being alert and working with my family and neighbours to be prepared with early warning systems for tidal waves and tsunamis. We learned to share information amongst communities on specific disaster impacts and what to do to minimise their effects. Here in my town, we want to prioritise protection against typhoons and storms through the building of a sea wall and addressing erosion along the shoreline. My community has sent a proposal to the authorities for this and we are waiting for approval to begin.
If I could speak to other communities, I would tell them to protect their villages, learn from the training and adapt to new Disaster Risk Reduction measures to become resilient and survive.
Barangay Councillor - Salvacion Island
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Act for Peace’s partner– The National Council of Churches of the Philippines (NCCP) – is a local organisation with many years of experience working with the people of Salvacion Island. The Disaster Risk Reduction program works with the local community to identify and prepare for risks and hazards during a natural disaster. As well as strengthening communication and early warning systems, and plan for worst-case scenarios through training in evacuation procedures.
As the Disaster Risk Reduction training is for all community members, the information is shared with men, women and children of all ages. The program establishes local disaster management committees and processes for preparing for and responding to natural disasters. This ensures a high level of ownership and responsibility amongst community members.
Communities are the first line of defense as well as the first responders in times of emergencies. Our partner’s work in empowering these vulnerable communities to respond first during major disasters is a crucial step towards building disaster preparedness for the country as a whole.
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