Enabling local leaders as first disaster responders
MANILA, Philippines – Interacting with head teachers, Department of Education (DepEd) coordinators and nurses, Mardie Libato is not at all intimidated. A barangay health worker in her town in Alcantara, Cebu, she has learned to actively participate in activities that enable her to carry out her tasks in the community. (READ: 30 years and counting: The life of a volunteer village health worker)
"If you would ask me to join this kind of training 10 years back, I wouldn't have said yes. I didn't think I could catch up especially with the composition of trainees," she said.
But the different leadership exposures she attended eventually built her confidence. She now sits with different people from different professions as one of the 30 participants in the emergency medical responder training. The activity will equip educators and local leaders in first aid and basic life support.(READ: [Dash of SAS] Health care providers with a heart)
On DRR awareness
Things particularly changed for Libato and her community after Typhoon Jangmi hit her village on December 2014. She said that people didn't know where to evacuate. Everyone, including her family could only pray that they be spared from the wrath of the typhoon. Fortunately, they survived.
"I almost lost my husband and my father-in-law. The water from the river was unstoppable and they were effortlessly swamped by the strong current. We were all helpless and worst, all of us in the neighborhood didn't know where to go," she recalls.
After the typhoon, the local government and NGOs, including World Vision, started strengthening disaster preparedness in the area.
Aside from the barangay child-focused disaster risk reduction (DRR) training, World Vision also conducted school-based DRR, recognizing that children are the most vulnerable during disasters. (READ: Poverty, disasters, and the children in between)
"I took part in the village hazard mapping. Working with the community members, including children, we were able to identify which areas in our neighborhoods are safe and unsafe during disasters. Now we can say that should there be another disaster like Typhoon Jangmi, we are ready," Libato added. (READ: Fault-finders, storm-chasers: Hazard mapping in the PH)
Progressive training for local leaders
After the community-focused DRR training, her community was able to come up with a DRR plan. The plan, however, would need equipped leaders who are ready to implement DRR initiatives all year round. (READ: Community involvement in DRRM a must for the typhoon season)
"We understand how crucial a DRR plan is but we also find it necessary to equip local leaders like Mardie, who are the first responders during disasters. This is why we have involved them in the basic life support training," said Florabel Labor, Disaster Risk Reduction Specialist in Visayas.
Rhee Telen, Project Development Officer at the Cebu Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office, lauded World Vision for such initiative.
Telen shared, "It is our mandate to promote resilience throughout the city but we surely can't do it on our own. After this training, the participants will be included in our pool of responders who can help us not only during disasters but also in our preparedness initiatives."
He further emphasized that their office is 6 hours away from North and South Cebu, making it crucial for them to link and form a broad network of local responders in various locations to serve as their extended arms during disasters. (READ: The role of LGUs, local councils during disasters)
"I am now more confident in carrying out my task as a health worker in case a big disaster strikes. The training was overwhelming but I learned a lot," shared Libato.
"Last year’s scenes, when my husband and father-in-law struggled for their lives and when I and my neighbors were desperately wondering where to seek shelter would be the last time I would see myself, family and community, feeling lost and helpless,"– Rappler.com
Florence Joy Maluyo is an Emergency Communications Specialist with World Vision.
World Vision is an international Christian humanitarian, relief, and advocacy organization dedicated to working with children, families and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the root causes of poverty and injustice.