Disaster risk reduction and management critical in poverty alleviation - DSWD

DAVAO CITY – Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Assistant Secretary Camilo Gudmalin stated that strengthening the capacities of poor communities in disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) will ensure that development will still happen even if these are affected by calamities. The statement was made during the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for a learning exchange between Compostela Valley and Albay on November 5 in Davao City.

The learning exchange, which will be facilitated by the DSWD, is part of the pilot testing of the enhancement of the provincial local government (PLGU) engagement in the implementation of the community-driven development (CDD) strategy, which is used by 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.

DSWD Field Office 11 Regional Director Priscilla Razon said, “This learning exchange will provide the avenue for generating and promoting lessons on CDD implementation and approaches to DRRM between these two provinces in the context of promoting poverty reduction initiatives.”

Albay Governor Joey Sarte Salceda highlighted the importance of DRRM in development. He said, “Disasters without rehabilitation create poverty.”

Salceda, who has recently been named as the head of the United Nations Green Climate Fund Board, shared that about 15% of Albay’s expenditures are on disaster risk reduction and climate change management. The province is prone to natural disasters such as flooding, landslides, and even volcanic eruptions, being home to the Mayon volcano. It is also frequently visited by typhoons. Typhoons such Reming, Pedring, and Juaning are only some of those that hit the province in the past years, causing devastation to both life and property.

Despite this, Albay has consistently been recognized locally and internationally for its DRRM efforts. This is attributed by Governor Salceda to proper training of their staff and the residents themselves. He said, “Everything that we are doing now is all about capacity building”.

Compostela Valley Governor Arturo Uy answers a question from the media during the press conference following the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding [MoU] with Albay. With him are (from L-R) DSWD Region 11 Regional Director Priscilla Razon, DSWD Assistant Secretary Camilo G. Gudmalin, Albay Governor Joey Salceda, and DSWD Region 5 Regional Director Arnel Garcia

For his part, Compostela Valley Governor Arturo Uy said that the experience with Typhoon Pablo last 2012 made the PLGU realize the importance of disaster preparedness. Like Albay, the province is now focused on training staff and its residents on how to respond to various types of disasters. He also thanked Governor Salceda, saying that Albay was the first to respond when Compostela Valley was hit by Typhoon Pablo.

Governor Uy thanked the DSWD for choosing Compostela Valley as one of the sites for the PLGU engagement pilot. “I appreciate the confidence you put in us”, he said.

According to DSWD Assistant Secretary Gudmalin, the lessons from the PLGU engagement pilot and the learning exchange will be used in the development of the National Community-Driven Development Program (NCDDP), the scaling up of the CDD strategy used in Kalahi-CIDSS.

Assistant Secretary Gudmalin explained that the NCDDP, which was described by Governor Salceda as “the biggest project of the government for rural development”, will not just increase the number of municipalities that the DSWD will engage with in CDD implementation, it will also have what he described as a “vertical scale-up”, as this is projected to tap PLGUs in the implementation of the program.

He said, “In the past, we focused our interventions on the barangays in the municipalities. Under the national CDD program, we realized it would be best for us to get the active involvement of the PLGU because we will be covering 80% of the municipalities within the province.”

Assistant Secretary Gudmalin said that engaging the PLGUs will be a way to ensure that the local development plans will be in line with the national development plan.

The ADB is providing technical and financial assistance in the implementation of the PLGU engagement pilot, which will run from April 2013 to December 2014. The learning exchange itself is expected to commence this month.

As CDD programs, both the Kalahi-CIDSS and the NCDDP make sure that ordinary residents have an active say in the local decision-making processes within their communities by empowering and capacitating them to become participants in local governance and development.###