MANILA: A group of international aid agencies on Saturday called on President Aquino to strengthen the government’s commitment to disaster response, noting that victims of typhoon ‘Yolanda’ remain exposed to risks.
In a statement released a day after Aquino’s fifth state of the nation address (SONA), groups who constitute Project SURGE said the government should ensure the livelihood of vulnerable sectors while outlining its policy on disaster risk reduction.
“We urge the President to lay down his commitment to inclusive, community-based disaster risk reduction, including the strategies and mechanisms that will ensure the meaningful participation, protection, and much-needed livelihoods of vulnerable individuals and families,” the group said.
“The SONA would have been an opportunity for the President to update the nation on its plans for recovery and the critical role that DRR (disaster risk reduction) will play in ensuring that we truly “build back better,” it added.
SURGE, which stands for Scaling Up Resilience in Governance, aims to increase resilience of high-risk communities in the country. It is a consortium of Oxfam, Christian Aid, Handicap International and Plan International, groups that have been actively involved in the rehabilitation of areas hit by Yolanda.
“With a clear trend of increasingly frequent and intense natural hazards, the government must lay out a strengthened commitment to enacting and implementing policies that increase our nation’s resilience to disasters,” SURGE said.
The group said thousands of Yolanda survivors are still living in tents and coastal areas nine months since the typhoon ravaged the country. More than 7,000 people in Yolanda-hit areas sought cover anew when typhoon ‘Glenda’ hit the Visayas two weeks ago, it added.
“These communities are being exposed to tremendous risk and uncertainty. They urgently need to know when permanent relocation will move forward, what other settlement options they have, and what the implications will be for their livelihoods,” SURGE said.
“They must be consulted in ongoing and meaningful ways to ensure any settlement measures represent truly durable solutions.”
SURGE said the Reconstruction Assistance for Yolanda plan released by the government last December is now “woefully out of date” as the transition from emergency relief to recovery and rehabilitation is underway.
The consortium also claimed that the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council Post-Disaster Needs Assessment has yet to be released.
THE PHILIPPINE STAR