DSWD gathers Western Visayas mayors for consultation on community-driven post-disaster rehabilitation

ILOILO CITY – The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) recently gathered Western Visayas mayors and representatives of local government units (LGU) in a forum on community-driven rehabilitation and development following the impact of Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines.

The forum is part of the preparatory work being conducted for the National Community-Driven Development Program (NCDDP). The event also served as an orientation for local chief executives on the program, which is the scaling up of Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS), the community-driven development (CDD) project being implemented by DSWD.

According to DSWD Assistant Secretary Camilo Gudmalin, community participation is central to rehabilitation efforts after disaster.

He said, “Kung ang mamamayan ang boss natin, mahirap naman na sila ang mahuli. Dapat sila ang mauna (If the citizens are our bosses, it doesn’t seem right that they should be left behind).”

While he acknowledged that the relief and rehabilitation efforts following ‘Yolanda’ will be difficult, he said that key to making these initiatives successful is to tighten the coordination among the citizens, the LGUs, and the national government agencies (NGAs).

"Kung ang mamamayan ang boss natin, mahirap naman na sila ang mahuli. Dapat sila ang mauna [If the citizens are our bosses, it doesn't seem right that they should be left behind. They should be put first]", says DSWD Assistant Secretary Camilo Gudmalin in his address to the Western Visayas mayors

Asec. Gudmalin said, “The work is gargantuan, but the way to work around this is to create a stronger link between the government and the citizens… Together, we will be able to implement the interventions necessary to rebuild affected areas.”

While Asec. Gudmalin emphasized the importance of involving the citizens, DSWD-Field Office VI Director Evelyn Macapobre in turn highlighted the critical role LGUs play in post-disaster rehabilitation and development.

She said, “LGUs, as basic providers, would like to remain relevant and respond to the needs of their constituents, particularly those affected by Yolanda.”

She described the forum as “timely”, as the DSWD is studying ways in speeding up rehabilitation in order to better address the needs of citizens, particularly those who were and will be affected by disasters.

RD Macapobre also supported Asec. Gudmalin’s statement on the importance of community involvement, stressing, “LGUs can only do so much, but you have the untapped potential of resources, in the form of community residents, who can work with you in post-disaster rehabilitation.”

Their statements were echoed by Department of Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Francisco “Bimbo” Fernandez, who said that there should be partnership between the government and the people.

He said, “Local governance needs to step up to minimize risks to life and property. We don’t just need to build back, we need to build back better. That is the lesson we need to learn from ‘Yolanda’.”

According to Asec. Gudmalin, DSWD is eyeing around PhP3.94 B in investments for Western Visayas through the NCDDP. The program is targeting coverage of 117 municipalities in the region.

NCDDP integrates disaster risk reduction and management in its design. It pays particular attention to the areas affected by ‘Yolanda’. In fact, 554 of its 847 target municipalities are ‘Yolanda’-affected.

Last March 5, a similar activity was conducted in Tacloban City, with Eastern Visayas as its participants. Both Western and Eastern Visayas were severely affected by Typhoon Yolanda, which hit the Philippines on November 8, 2013. ###