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Strengthening Disaster Resilience and Preparedness in the Philippines

The Philippines is one of the world’s most vulnerable countries to natural disasters. Natural disasters are increasing the social and economic costs in the country as a result of population growth, changing land-use patterns, migration, unplanned urbanisation, environmental degradation, and global climate change. Reducing the risk of disasters will be critical to achieving the Philippines’ development goals.

In terms of population exposure and vulnerability to hazards, the Philippines ranks among the top three countries in the world. Over the course of their long history of dealing with disasters, the Philippine government has developed strong defence strategies. Nonetheless, significant gaps in disaster management capacities persist across the Philippines, and surprisingly little data on local levels of disaster resilience and preparedness are available.

At least 60% of the country’s total land area, nearly 300,000 square kilometres (116,000 square miles), is prone to natural disasters, owing in large part to the archipelago’s location along the path of tropical storms brewing in the western Pacific as well as the Ring of Fire.

The Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (DOST-Phivolcs) has inaugurated its Mindanao Cluster Monitoring Centre for Earthquake and Tsunami to address disaster resilience and preparedness initiatives in the Philippines. According to the Phivolcs Director, the newly built Mindanao Cluster Monitoring Centre will improve the country’s earthquake detection capability.

PMCMCET is located in Mintal, Davao City, inside the Southern Mindanao Campus of the Philippine Science High School (PSHS). According to Phivolcs, the cluster centre also manages the earthquake and tsunami monitoring stations on Mindanao, which include nine staff-controlled seismic stations, 18 satellite-telemetered seismic stations, 12 sea-level detection stations, and tsunami alerting stations.

Although Phivolcs has a data receiving centre in Quezon City, Solidum believes that establishing earthquake detection facilities in other parts of the country would ensure service continuity, particularly during disasters.

“If there is a large earthquake in Metro Manila, it (other facilities) would help us ensure that the office is still operating. It is an initial step to ensure continuity of service,” the Phivolcs Director said. Establishing the PMCMCET is also said to be helpful in case of large earthquake events in Luzon, the Visayas, and Mindanao on the same day.

Furthermore, an engineer in the Philippines recently introduced the Seismic Isolator, a game-changing solution for protecting the country’s buildings from earthquakes. Given that the Philippines is located on the Pacific Ring of Fire and is prone to earthquakes, the anti-seismic device could assist in mitigating and preventing much more damage if another ground-shaking event occurs.

The Seismic Isolator is an anti-seismic device that helps ensure that a building sustains no damage in the event of an earthquake. Its goal is to protect the building from damaging ground movement by allowing it to slide along with it. Because damaging earthquake movements are horizontal rather than vertical, a building equipped with seismic isolators will simply sway rather than vibrate back and forth in varying directions as a result of inertial forces, causing deformation and damage.

In addition, the Philippines government also established its National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Plan (NDRRMP), which was followed by the Philippines’ National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, which is the relevant peak body and includes cabinet-level heads of each major government department, as well as permanent representatives from civil society, the Philippines Red Cross, and the private sector. This is significant because non-governmental actors play a critical role in fostering community, regional, and national resilience.

The NDRRMP is in line with the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Framework (NDRRMF), which provides the primary guide for the country’s disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) efforts. The Framework envisions a country of safer, more adaptable, and disaster-resilient Filipino communities working toward long-term development.

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