Governance & Natural Disasters

Manila Bulletin, October 4, 2009 | Go to article overview

Governance & Natural Disasters


Natural disasters have serious health, social and economic consequences. Developing countries like the Philippines are the most vulnerable because of our lack of resources, infrastructure and disaster preparedness systems. Relief and evacuation efforts have surged in the wake of the havoc wrought by Typhoon Ondoy. It is admirable how socio-civic organizations, universities and private individuals have stepped up to the task of collecting and distributing food, water and clothing to those who have lost their homes and possessions.More than 115,000 people are currently taking shelter in makeshift centers such as schools and open-air gymnasiums throughout the city. The scarcity of safe water and sanitation facilities, the degree of crowding, the weakened health status of the evacuees, and the dearth of healthcare services all influence the risk for communicable diseases. Infections including swine flu, diarrhoea and leptospirosis are what we should especially watch out for. This calls for the mobilization of our health service agencies in monitoring and halting the rapid spread of disease.Now we are faced with the more difficult task of recovery. Beyond the immediate, we must look into long-term strategies that will help the affected communities recover from the disaster and rebuild their lives. Equally important, we must instill a sense of hope and solidarity among them.During this week’s budget hearing, I asked the government’s housing agencies and social development arms to earmark in their budget proposals an emergency fund for reconstruction and assistance to Typhoon Ondoy’s victims. …

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