Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The floods are coming

An editorial by Dean Tony La Vina in the Manila Standard Today (Philippines): The title of this column is not a prediction. It is a fact. Whether we like it or not, whatever we do now or tomorrow, the rains and the floods are coming.

…Now that the typhoon season is upon us, are we prepared for the rains and the floods that are sure to come? Policy wise, yes. But on the ground, far from it. Last March, in a paper co-written with Eunice Agsaoay, Johanna Jambalos and Joanne Dulce for the 2010 Academic Congress of the University of the Philippines, I identified four priorities we must have so we can respond better to disasters: (1) radically change the way we look at disasters and put into place a new framework—disaster risk reduction—that would make us more prepared; (2) ensure excellence in the way scientific institutions gather and analyze information and link them to each other to maximize synergies so that the best available information/analysis is provided to decision makers; (3) approach disaster risk reduction, preparedness, rehabilitation, and emergency response as a national project, a non-partisan undertaking that involves the government as convener and enabler but requires the collaboration of all sectors; (4) address comprehensively the root causes—economic, legal, political and cultural - for the havoc that result from disasters.

In urban areas, the following have to be addressed: improving land use planning; strict implementation of environmental rules; reversing rural-urban migration patterns; finding just solutions to human settlement challenges; and establishing effective metropolitan authorities. For rural areas, there may be a need to review the necessity of constructing and maintaining dams for irrigation and power generation purposes. Alternative sources of irrigation and power generation should be explored. Land use planning based on risk assessment is also important

…While some progress has been made, so much remains to be done. The highest priority is making sure a paradigm shift happens in the way we address disasters….

Flooding in Manila from Typhoon Ondoy, shot by Philippinepresidency, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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