The usual

What’s old with Typhoon Lando/Koppu?

When we went around to validate if there was need for assistance particularly for children in some of the schools that were reported as evacuation centers, one of our initial questions to the school principal or teacher was, “so, who are the evacuees?”  The reply was, “oh, you know, the usual”.

Majority, if not all, of “the usual” evacuees were families in owned or rented residences prone to flooding because of (a) location i.e. along riverbanks or creeks, and (b) building structure and material that don’t conform to quality standards.  Of the latter, many are boarding houses.  Majority, if not all, of these families are migrants to the City.  Public perception was these migrants are Muslims, but actually not all are.

I’ve been to other locations in the country in my evaluations of DRR projects and the above information is consistent with the situation in other localities.

What does this information tell us about the state of DRR in localities?  Well, that, disaster risks in general have not been reduced, whether at the family or locality.  Families vulnerable to disasters are still vulnerable.  They’re the same evacuees year after year.  Towns and cities prone to flooding incur the same situation year after year.  In other words, while we say the country has adopted the DRR model to address disasters and emergencies, in practice it has not.  It’s stuck in the old disaster control approach of the 70s.

Take the City Camp lagoon area in Baguio City.  I don’t know how folks at City Hall could take that the perennial flooding at the Camp consequently it’s evacuees have become the butt of disaster jokes.  Or, why the situation at the Camp is allowed to recur decade after decade.  Or, why the area was even appropriated as residential.

via GMA Network

There is no reason for City Hall not to have acted because there is a solution, one being, early resettlement planning (i.e. resettlement as part of the usual development planning) and subsequently the conversion of the lagoon area into another use i.e. non-residential.  But where to resettle?  If City Hall acted 50 or 20 years ago, it would’ve been less costly and much more flexible to have allocated the City’s land.  To this, City Hall folks might counter, but there was no DRR 50 or 20 years ago how could we have known?

To be fair, City Hall has thought of “water level measuring markers” placed at strategic areas in the Camp.  Of course, all things the same as before the Camp will get flooded with or without the rain gauges.

Precisely for this thinking that so-called Third World countries are third world.  Their third worldliness is more the result of the lack of foresight, can-do attitude, decisiveness, creativity, and sophistication in development responses among public decision-makers.  For every belief that “this can’t be done” the First World has already done it.

Nobody’s complaining.  Not “the usual” evacuees.  In the schools, they’re provided free food items (no less by politicians who have much quicker access to information as to whereabouts of survivors as opposed to designated agencies, which says something of their networks and their ability to be the first to arrive in the sites) and medicines throughout their stay.  And what is three nights sleeping next to strangers versus having no place to sleep at all?  So why complain?

It is a vicious cycle.

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