Iba Na Ang Panahon: Science for Safer Communities (DOST)

sscThe government is mobilizing its resources starting next week to enhance capabilities of local communities across the country to deal with calamities the magnitude of typhoon Yolanda.

Science Secretary Mario Montejo told a press briefing that they will be bringing all their training resources to all the 17 regions this summer, from March 3, May 23, to work on the skills of local government official s in dealing with calamities — from risk monitoring, to planning and action.

“In this project of ours which we call ‘Iba Na Ang Panahon: Science for Safer Communities,’ we will teach them how to put science in disaster planning and preparation,” he said

The activity is a joint disaster preparedness project of the Department of Science and Technology and the Department of Interior and Local Government, to be done in coordination with the Office of Civil Defense, in anticipation of potential hazards in the future.

Montejo said workshops have been lined up in every region, and all governors and mayors are enjoined to attend.

“We had been able to draw up scenario-based strategies and protocols in dealing calamities, from warning, response, to rehabilitation.  We are bringing them down to the provinces and municipalities, and there’s no other time to start than now. Summer is just around the corner, and we would rather make hay while the sun shines,” he explained.

Margareta Wahlstrom, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction, attended the press conference to express the UN’s support for the project.

The DOST will take charge of training participants on how to use their of disaster technologies, the DILG and the OCD will teach them on how to base their plans on scientific data provided.

“Our objective is to increase the local risk knowledge of the local executives and the people in their communities, capacitate them to do an effective monitoring of a looming calamity, test their warning and communication protocols, and build their response capabilities,” he said.

The workshop should enhance the decision-making capabilities of local executives, and enable them to execute science-based and scenario-driven strategies whenever a calamity strikes, the science secretary said.

He said their training modules are based on the country’s experiences from Yolanda, and other calamities that occurred earlier.

The trainings will vary based on the hazard vulnerabilities of each locality.

“After these workshops, we expect local leaders and their communities to respond to our early warnings.   As we have been doing, we will continue providing early warnings, and we expect them to give early actions to attain zero, or only minimal damage and casualties whenever a calamity hits them,” Montejo said.

This article was originally published in Ugnayan.com on 3 March 2014.

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