Sunday, September 26, 2010

A year after Ondoy, many still in danger zones

Pia Faustino in GMANews.TV: One year ago, Mega Manila became Water World. Tropical storm Ondoy’s record rain produced an epic flood, submerging places in the metropolis that never saw water before in its streets, or at least not that high. The devastation, public trauma, and government’s slow and anemic response prompted the usual finger pointing and vows of change.

One year later, how much has really changed? How prepared for the next Ondoy are the 15 million or so people in the affected areas? The experts agree that while there have been some technical improvements and fresh hope with a new national law on disaster reduction, the biggest risk factor remains: Over 150,000 households in the most hazardous locations are still there. [Do you live in a flood-prone area? Use an interactive map produced by GMANews.TV to find out.]

"The key to disaster risk reduction is simply relocation and engineering intervention," said Governor Joey Salceda of Albay Province. Under Salceda's leadership, Albay has been recognized in recent years as a "global model" of disaster management in local governance.

Yet in urban centers throughout the nation, so-called “informal settlers" consider relocation an even greater threat than disasters. They are willing to risk living in the potential path of destruction just to be near their sources of livelihood. As a result, relocation efforts have been slow at best.

"Of the 120,000 lakeshore and 45,000 riverbank households in NCR and Calabarzon, at best only 2,000 have been relocated," lamented Salceda. As former President Arroyo's economic adviser during the Ondoy and Pepeng calamities, Salceda had initiated the creation of a Philippine Reconstruction Commission to oversee the rehabilitation of areas devastated by the two storms…

A flood after Typhoon Ondoy, September 2009, shot by Philippinepresidency, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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