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Poverty is a type of disaster – DSWD

Cebu City – “Poverty in itself is a disaster.”

This was the statement made by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Juliano-Soliman during her keynote address in the municipal Mayors’ Forum for identified local chief executives (LCEs) of Central Visayas on March 21 in this city.

“Poverty in itself is a disaster”, according to DSWD Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Juliano-Soliman, addressing the Central Visayas Local Chief Executives and representatives of civil society organizations and regional offices of national government agencies

The mayors’ forum had a dual purpose: to orient the LCEs on the National Community-Driven Development Program (NCDDP), one of the programs of the DSWD that is targeted for launching this 2014, and to determine the possibility of using the community-driven development (CDD) strategy in post-disaster rehabilitation and development.

The NCDDP is the scaling up of the operations of Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS), one of the three main poverty alleviation programs of the DSWD.

It uses the CDD strategy, a development approach that focuses on empowering and building up the capacities of citizens and local government units so they will be able to lift their own communities out of poverty.

Describing how poverty remains a pressing problem in the Philippines, Sec. Soliman explained how disasters make people even more vulnerable to poverty, either by making them more poor, or sending non-poor families into poverty.

She added that this is an even bigger problem now, as the Philippine government is anticipating that disasters similar in strength to Typhoon Yolanda will be hitting the country because of climate change.

This is particularly important in the Central Visayas region, which was struck by two strong natural disasters in 2013: the October earthquake which hit Bohol and Cebu, and ‘Yolanda’, which hit the country last November.

According to the National Disaster Risk Reduction Council (NDRRMC), there were 6,268 confirmed casualties nationwide due to ‘Yolanda’ as of March 14.

On the other hand, the earthquake resulted in 222 deaths, all from the Central Visayas region, also according to the NDRRMC.

Given this, Sec. Soliman said that increasing people’s resilience is critical, not only to make them less vulnerable to the impact of disasters, but also poverty itself.

Sec. Soliman said, “The people know what is resilient,” explaining that their involvement in disaster preparedness and post-disaster recovery increases their capacity to withstand calamities, not only as families, but also as communities as a whole.

She added, “Citizens’ participation cannot be denied. The people themselves take first part in disaster response and mitigation. As active participants, they are less likely to be victimized.”

Sec. Soliman also emphasized the importance of having local government units (LGUs) work closely with the citizens and the national government in development, particularly in terms of governance, and in DRRM.

She said, “Real change should be based on good governance,” adding that development can only happen when the different sectors work together.

“We need to have a responsive government and active citizenry to make people resilient against poverty and disasters.”

As a CDD program, NCDDP seeks to empower people, build up their capacities, improve their access to basic services, and improve local governance by improving the partnership between citizens and their local government units.

One of the enhancements of NCDDP is the integration of disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) in its design. It also takes into consideration other thematic areas such as gender, Indigenous Peoples, and environmental and social safeguards.

Earlier this month, mayors’ forums was held in Eastern Visayas and Western Visayas to orient the LCEs on the NCDDP and how CDD can be used as a strategy in recovery initiatives post-disaster. ###