Are we disaster-ready?

I spent the whole day today at the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology office at UP Diliman. The Geological Society of the Philippines, in cooperation with the country’s lead agency in studying earthquakes and tsunamis, held a forum on climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction and management.

PHIVOLCS Director Renato Solidum said that the Philippines has had 90 major earthquakes in 400 years, that’s 1 every 4 or 5 years. Aside from quakes, he said that the country has had 1 tsunami every 10 years. The last one happened in 1994, which means that one can happen anytime soon.

To prepare for the country for what has been called by many as “The Big One,” Solidum and the rest of PHIVOLCS, with the cooperation of several experts on climate change, seismology, meteorology, and geology, has been engaged in educating the different communities in disaster-prone areas of the country.

Solidum said that what is essential in reducing the damage brought about by earthquakes, landslides, and floods is not only the necessary equipment that could provide a head start for local populations to mitigate the destruction, but more importantly the education of the general public on what can be done in the event of natural disaster.

The country’s chief “fault-finder” (as he would like to call himself) said that it is important for the local government units to foster an attitude of climate-change adaptation awareness and disaster risk reduction and management. It is essential that the local population would know the consequences they would face if they refuse to abide by the warnings of government agencies on environmental phenomenon.

Aside from education, Solidum also said that the strict observance of the building code and other regulations on structures and land use would play an important factor in reducing the damage brought by natural disasters. Should the laws which were crafted with public safety in mind be upheld, the risks of structures easily falling apart in an environmental phenomenon would be reduced. This would also result to a reduced damage in human lives and property.

It is important, the director stressed, that Filipinos constantly bear in mind the country’s location in the Pacific Ring of Fire. As such, preparations for earthquakes, landslides, floods, typhoons, and tsunamis, should be a part of the lives of the people. It is only with the adoption of an attitude of preparedness and awareness that the Filipino will have a greater chance of weathering the challenges of climate change and natural disasters.

 

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