Philippine gov’t to SURGE, DIPECHO: You are handing over safer communities

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MAKATI CITY – Marking the end of its work in the Philippines for more than a decade, the European Union Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department’s Disaster Preparedness Program (DIPECHO), together with the Scaling Up Resilience in Governance (SURGE) consortium, has officially handed over its advocacies, learnings, and knowledge products to the Philippine government.

Through a formal handover ceremony at the Marriott Hotel last December 9, representatives from the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), the Office of Civil Defense (OCD), SURGE partners, civil society organizations, communities, and DRR champions from different parts of the country converged to commemorate DIPECHO’s work in the country since 1998.

The program started with a historical video produced by SURGE that elaborated on DIPECHO’s initiatives in inclusive community-based disaster risk reduction and management (ICBDRR), while emphasizing the need to invest more resources in DRR to minimize disastrous situations after calamities.

It continued with a testimony of a barangay (village) official from Islas de Gigantes, Western Visayas who recalls that through DRR trainings sponsored by DIPECHO last 2013, they were able to anticipate the destruction caused by Typhoon Haiyan, known locally as Yolanda.

“The day before Typhoon Yolanda hit, I talked to the whole community, focusing on houses located in coastal areas. They were the priority in terms of evacuation. We were not at full capacity but somehow, through the trainings, we were able to evacuate them.” says Alberto Mayordomo.

According to Ambassador Franz Jessen, Head of the European Union Delegation to the Philippines, DIPECHO has contributed more than EUR 8 million for various projects in the country – including recent ones such as SURGE – since the start of its financial support with the hope that it would gain “momentum in spreading resilient governance and community-based DRR practices in every vulnerable island and hazard-prone barangay.”

“We refuse to see another disaster, another Yolanda. Together, we continue this journey towards a more resilient Philippines,” he says.

Representatives from SURGE and OCD then signed a memorandum of agreement where the latter would own, a website previously maintained by SURGE to consolidate technical resources on DRR. Participants were then invited to sign a commitment pledge where they would vow to heed the lessons learned by DIPECHO in the country while continuing to be advocates of inclusion in disaster preparedness.

Officials from the DILG and OCD, expressed their gratitude for DIPECHO’s support in the country.

“We will continue to facilitate the enhancement of these programs to build climate change-adaptive and disaster-resilient communities. May our cooperation grow stronger for the benefit of the Filipino people,” says Civil Defense Deputy Administrator Romeo Fajardo.

“We have just witnessed the handing over of the knowledge products of DIPECHO. But to me, what has been handed over are safer communities. The program has given us an opportunity to learn from them. The project may end, but the advocacies will continue.” says DILG Usec. Austere Panadero.

SURGE serves as DIPECHO’s exit program in the country, and was implemented by Christian Aid, Handicap International, Oxfam and Plan International, which aims to build and increase the resilience of high-risk communities by promoting inclusive community-based disaster risk reduction practices and taking the learning to other communities in the Philippines.

SURGE is also the third DIPECHO-funded project that Handicap International was involved in, having worked previously with the “Mainstreaming Disability into Disaster Risk Management in Indonesia and Philippines” and the “Scale Up, Build Up” projects.