LEGAZPI CITY, March 6 (PNA) – Two cities in the province of Albay have been identified as immediate beneficiaries of a newly rolled-out national program on climate risks reduction designed for more resilient and sustainable Philippine communities.
This city and Ligao City were identified into the program based on the sustained commitment of its current local government administrations to efforts toward climate change adaptation (CCA) and disaster risk vulnerability reduction (DRVR), according to Manuel “Nong” Rangasa, head of the Local Climate Change Adaptation for Development (LCCAD).
Based in this city, LCCAD is the national CCA and DRVR training institution that provides theoretical moorings to national, local government units (LGUs) and multiple stakeholders, recognized by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).
The new program, whose implementation was recently forged between the Philippine government through its Climate Change Commission (CCC) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), is called the National Convergence Programme on Reducing Climate and Disaster Risks for a more Resilient and Sustainable Philippines.
CCC chair Emmanuel de Guzman and UN Resident Coordinator Ola Almsgren signed the document governing the program in behalf of the Philippine government and the UNDP, respectively, ina simple ceremony in Manila on Friday.
Rangasa, who was invited to witness the signing ceremonies, said over the weekend that the program is envisioned to orchestrate all national endeavors on climate change and risk reduction, to enable the country to cost effectively move to a stable, sustainable development situation toward-achieving the over-all well-being of current and future generations of Filipinos.
It carries with it an intention of increasing the capacities of national and local governments to lead homegrown stakeholders in averting losses from natural hazards and climate change and increase socioeconomic contribution of sectors in CCA and mitigation opportunities, he said.
These sectors, according to Rangasa, are the critical such as local academic institutions, civil society organizations and the private segment in which the program is focused primarily on enhancing their support and capabilities in climate change and disaster risk management actions.
Through this program, he said, communities would be empowered in addressing the impacts of natural hazards, in CCA and in developing resilience towards sustainable development.
During the signing ceremonies, Rangasa said, UNDP Country Director Titon Mitra stressed that the international agency is into the new program as it works to ensure a better life for the Filipinos.
Almsgren, for his part, reiterated that the same UN body fosters human development for peace and prosperity, working with central and local governments with a special focus on vulnerable groups and stakeholders, Rangasa added.
Informed earlier of this development, Legazpi City Mayor Noel Rosal on Sunday said “we were selected as among immediate beneficiaries of the program owing to our sustained efforts towards keeping our constituents and communities safe from natural disasters and adaptive of climate change.”
He cited as example of these efforts the city’s relocation projects involving hundreds of families formerly living within the danger zones down the highly active Mt. Mayon.
In 1993, following the Feb. 3 deadly Mayon blast that killed 75 people, mostly farmers, caught by superhot pryroclastic materials while farming at the lower slope of the volcano, the city government established the Banquerohan resettlement colony where hundreds of families were permanently relocated from the volcano’s danger zone.
In establishing the relocation in Barangay Banquerohan, around 18 kilometers south of the city and far away from the foot of the volcano, the city government acquired a vast undeveloped property and built permanent housing units for the relocatees through assistance from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and several humanitarian donors.
Then, immediately after the onslaught in September 2006 of typhoon "Reming" that killed over a thousand of city residents when swept by rampaging flashfloods emanating from the slope of the volcano, the city government put up the Taysan resettlement community where hundreds of families living along flood routes and low-lying areas were permanently relocated.
Located in the upper barangay of Taysan, seven kilometers south of the city proper, the resettlement site, provided with housing units within a lot area of more than 11 hectares, is now considered as the turning point of the city’s path towards resiliency.
Such allocation of space for relocation was a huge leap for the city to manifest its intention of avoiding high risk areas, according to Rosal.
The city government has also put up public elementary and high schools, a day care center, multipurpose halls, water supply system and concrete roads within the site now being envisioned to cater also to informal settlers living in environment-critical areas and danger zones.
Furthermore, livelihood support programs have been introduced by the city government and other social services agencies to increase household income of the relocatees.
For Ligao City, Mayor Patricia Gonzalez-Alsua said their entry into the new CCC-UNDP program is to provide the local government’s CCA and DRVR efforts a further push even as “our past and current efforts are not going in vain.”
The city, she said, has been successful, so far in its environmental resources preservation towards upholding its natural beauty and maintenance of the richness of its land as well as with its flood-mitigating systems serving many purposes like preventing soil erosion to connecting communities and irrigating agricultural lands.
“We have been turning vulnerability into an opportunity to fill out the needs of our communities,” she said, referring to the five major rivers surrounding the city’s urban core and its being a downstream of Mt. Mayon that makes the area prone to flood during heavy rains, but provided with mitigating measures, making the city a safer ground.
Flood control dikes, drainage canals, irrigation systems and other flood mitigating infrastructures have been constructed in the past years to address the need for security against flood devastation, Alsua said.
There is a lot more to be done, however, insofar as CCA and DRVR is concerned, hence the city’s instant inclusion in the CCC-UNDP convergence program, she added.(PNA) BNB/FGS/DOC/CBD/PJN