LOCAL government units (LGUs) need to enhance their capacities for disaster prevention and mitigation to invigorate development, according to a paper released on Friday by think tank ADR Institute for Strategic and International Studies.
In the paper, ADR Institute trustees Prof. Francisco Magno and Ian Jayson Hecita discussed available options for LGUs to boost their capacities in disaster prevention and mitigation, which include risk assessments, vulnerability analysis, ecological profiling, land-use planning and communications campaigns.
These may also include plans for alternative livelihood sources, relief or assistance to victims of disasters, temporary shelters and the proper implementation of building codes.
LGUs are also urged to set aside at least five percent of their total budget for support activities, projects and programs.
“There has been growing international consensus that local governments and communities should have an active role in disaster risk reduction. The paradigm shift is that disaster management is an integral development approach that communities and localities should own,” said Magno and Hecita.
The paper said local governments can be the responsive agents in the reduction of risks with a mixed inter-governmental approach with national government agencies and a bottom-up approach.
“Local governments provide a facilitative link between national government [policy suppliers]and the citizens affected by climate change and disaster risks [demanders],” it said.
However, Magno and Hecita noted that LGUs encounter difficulties because of a lack of knowledge and advice on implementing these programs.
They attributed this problem to the lack of implementation advice and knowledge, particularly on provisions related to the use of funds, staffing and institutionalization.
“There is also need to invest in capacity development including identification of key competencies,” the paper added.
The authors also found that more than 50 percent of LGUs do not have a functioning disaster council.
The authors also said a functioning disaster council can support the planning, budget and expenditure process of the local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) offices by providing a venue for key stakeholders to demand their DRR needs.
“Disasters impair development. The annual cost of natural disasters from 1990 to 2008 is approximately 0.7 to 1.0 percent of gross domestic product. This makes it one of the most hazard-prone countries internationally,” the paper noted.