US envoy opens op-center in Benguet

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TUBLAY, Benguet: United States Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg recently inaugurated a two-storey Emergency Operation Center for the Tublay Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

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The Operation Center (OpCen), made possible through the support of United States Agency for International Development (USAID), United Nations World Food Program (WFP) and through the initiative of Mayor Ruben Paoad, will serve as central command and control facility for the municipalityÕs disaster preparedness and response and climate change adaptation (CCA) efforts.

Goldberg said that as global efforts are being pushed to address the concern on climate change, it is equally important for local communities such as Tublay to prioritize preparedness especially in terms of awareness, adaptation and mitigation.

Aside from the OpCen, the US also helped the townÕs reforestation by planting coffee trees around 100 hectares.

WFP country director Praveen Agrawal disclosed a USAID grant of $120,000 invested in Tublay for the planting of coffee seedlings, capacity building trainings and infusion of science and technology innovations to strengthen the municipalityÕs DRRM and CCA efforts.

Agrawal said the monetary assistance may be small but the return of investment is high because aside from the reforestation of coffee trees, local folks are already benefitting from a livelihood project that gives them additional income for education, health and other basic necessities.

He also noted that Tublay is now more prepared to respond to disaster. “Though we cannot control climate change related disasters from happening, being prepared can help us mitigate its effect.”

Goldberg reiterated what US President Barrack Obama recently announced, saying “the US will push for 20 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emission and is also working to convince other developed countries to do the same so that altogether we can address the fundamental cause of the global climate change problem. Each country and every local community must also do its part to mitigate or lessen the impact of such actual phenomena that is affecting the life of everyone.”

To further advance DRR and climate change adaptation measures in the region, the US announced an additional P14 million ($340,000) USAID grant to support disaster risk reduction activities in five municipalities in Benguet, University of the Philippines Ð Baguio City Campus and other civil societyÕs initiative for learning and community development programs and projects.

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