Why strategic partnerships are key to disaster rehabilitation
MANILA, Philippines – How can the Philippines – considered as the third most disaster-prone country in the world because of its high exposure to natural calamities – use public-private collaboration to expedite disaster rehabilitation?
In one of the breakout sessions of the Asian Forum for Corporate Social Responsibility on Tuesday, September 2, businessmen and non-governmental organization representatives discussed the roles of the government, business, and civil society in promoting resiliency amid “new normal” weather conditions.
According to Danilo Antonio, undersecretary of the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery (OPARR), the government’s foremost role in disaster mitigation stems from the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) Act of 2010.
“The government’s DRRM approach, based on the law, should be holistic, comprehensive, integrated and proactive,” Antonio said.
The law created the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) and mandated local government units to adapt local DRRM plans.
‘Slow Yolanda rehabilitation’
But Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) gave a new perspective to the government’s DRRM law, Antonio said. When the super typhoon hit Eastern Visayas in November 2013, more than 6,000 people were killed, at least 28,000 were injured and millions were displaced in at least 171 cities.
A month after the super typhoon, on December 6, 2013, the OPARR was created to supervise rehabilitation and recovery in the devastated areas.
“We are now guided by the ‘build back better and safer’ principle, which focuses on long-term, sustainable efforts to reduce vulnerabilities and strengthen capacities to cope with future hazard events,” Antonio added.
OPARR follows the cluster framework approach, where each area that needs rehabilitation is headed by a department, like the Department of Trade and Industry for livelihood recovery programs.
Antonio admitted, however, that the completion rate of the government’s rehabilitation effort is only at 10% since the P171 billion Yolanda rehab master plan was only approved by the President on August 1, 2014, some 9 months after the super typhoon.
“Most of the provinces only submitted their rehabilitation plans to OPARR starting April and May, some even submitted only in July,” Antonio said.
He added: “Even if we consider our efforts fast, that still means that it will take some time because of the government processes that we have to undergo.”
Private sector’s help
According to Antonio, the private sector played a big role in the recovery of Yolanda-hit areas. Private companies, like PLDT and the Aboitiz Foundation, helped the rehabilitation of certain districts in 11 provinces before the government started its programs.
“We also have sectoral sponsors who aid in the rehabilitation of education, health/ nutrition, housing, livelihood and other areas that need help. This is because some organizations focus on certain advocacies to help,” Antonio said.
Rafel Lopa, executive director of the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP), said private companies have always been helpful in disaster rehabilitation. (READ: What will make public-private partnerships on climate change work?)
“Every time disasters hit our country, companies have responded proactively by providing emergency relief and early recovery initiatives which include relief goods for evacuees and transition living and learning places and health facilities. These are all made possible through the allocation of funds from their philanthropic budget,” Lopa said.
But Lopa claimed that donor burnout is a big problem, given the numerous disasters that hit the country every year “As we’re trying to get companies to support early recovery efforts, suddenly you have to beg again for relief goods.”
He added: “When these natural calamities are aggravated by the man-made ones, caused by conflicts borne out of intolerant political and ideological motives, a similar scenario of human misery and vulnerability, bouncing back to normalcy becomes an even steeper climb uphill.”
Both Antonio and Lopa emphasized the need for collaboration between the government and the private sector to come up with more resilient solutions to disasters. They said both sectors are moving forward in “progressive” directions.
On the side of the government, Antonio said they are using a science based approach in rebuilding communities along the Yolanda corridor.
“We need to put people in a zone that can be mitigated and controlled. We need to figure out mitigating measures that need to be adopted so life goes on,” he said.
For PBSP, more companies are considering sustainable business models in their mitigation efforts, according to Lopa.
“We see companies putting investments in new infrastructures that take into consideration the ‘new normal.’ Infrastructure development now becomes mitigating factors,” Lopa said.
Citing an executive’s take on CSR, Lopa concluded: “We do business in communities, not markets. It’s about building business communities so they can bounce back.” - Rappler.com