In line with the country’s observance of the National Disaster Consciousness Month this July, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has called on all local government units (LGUs) to revisit their geohazard maps and use them as guides for disaster preparedness.
In a statement on Friday, Environment Secretary Ramon Paje said the LGUs should take a look at the geohazard maps prepared by the DENR’s Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) and take note of areas declared as highly susceptible to floods and landslides, especially now that the rainy season has begun.
“Let us not react after the disaster has come and gone. Let us act now and prevent the possible destruction it can cause on lives and property,” Paje added.
The DENR chief said the LGUs can use the maps as guides for strategic decisions, such as those on land zoning and in determining sites for relocation and communities during natural disasters.
The MGB has completed and distributed some 85,000 copies of geohazard maps showing landslide- and flood-prone areas on a scale of 1:50,000 to LGUs nationwide.
A more detailed mapping of cities and municipalities, at a scale of 1:10,000, is to be completed within the year, while the three-dimensional version is now in the pipeline.
Meanwhile, Paje called on the public to make a more conscious and collective effort to adopt a lifestyle that would reverse environmental degradation and mitigate the negative impacts of disasters.
“Efforts can be small and personal, such as minding where you throw your trash, patronizing eco-friendly goods and services and not wasting water and energy.
They can also be on a larger scale like organizing community clean-ups or participating in tree-planting activities under the National Greening Program,” he said.
“What counts the most is that efforts are sustained or done regularly,” Paje noted as he pointed out that most of the damage caused by disasters “results from human activities that show blatant disregard for the environment.”
While natural phenomena are uncontrollable, he said, “our thinning forests, the unsustainable conversion and use of land and pollution that clogs our waterways and kills our rivers and seas indeed aggravate the impacts of disasters on lives and property, especially when they lead to erosion and flooding.”
“What is worse is that climate change makes extreme weather events as the new normal, so we can expect the hazards and risks to increase, too,” Paje warned.
The National Disaster Consciousness Month has been celebrated every year since 1999 by virtue of Executive Order 137. This year’s theme, “Ligtas na Bayan, Maunlad na Pamayanan,” focuses on safeguarding communities from adverse effects of natural disasters to promote sustainable development.