AUICK First 2010 Workshop
City Report and Revised Action Plan
Arnildo Castro Tamayo
Typhoons and flooding are increasingly affecting Olongapo. AUICK Workshop Action Plans have created a Disaster Volunteer Brigade (DVB), for community members to augment the activities of the Government's Disaster Management Office.
1. The City
Olongapo City, with a population of 227,270 is located in the southernmost portion of Zambales Province, Philippines. Spanning a total land area of 18,500 hectares, and topographically characterized by mountainous terrains AUICK Newsletter No.55 22 December 2010 located along the Manila Trench and perimeter of Mount Pinatubo, the city remains geographically vulnerable to natural disasters. In June 1990, with an epicenter situated along the northern cities of Luzon, a 5.6 magnitude quake reverberated through Olongapo, causing structural damage. In June 1991, the climactic eruption of Mount Pinatubo caused major disruption to the city's socio-economic infrastructure, and sent destructive volcanic debris across international borders. Typhoon Ruiz in 2006 caused a landslide in the mountainous area of Cabalan village, with consequential loss of lives and property.
While the extensive damage wrought by natural disasters may have been a painful learning experience, it nonetheless prompted the city's governing body to take action. Since creating the Disaster Management Office (DMO), the city has been able to responsively manage emergency situations and categorically prepare for natural calamities. A Disaster Volunteer Brigade (DVB) is likewise in the pipeline to complement the DMO's structure, especially with the recent effects of climate change causing unconventional "super-typhoons" and flash floods. Armed with a solid contingency plan, functionally equipped manpower and effective local leadership, Olongapo City's Disaster Preparedness Program has in recent years been aptly recognized as having one of the best local disaster response teams in the country.
The city's health care status is at a comparatively high level against national or regional standards. Operating on a dichotomized health care delivery system, preventive health care is being managed under the City Health Office, and curative health care through modern tertiary level hospitals. While population health remains optimally sound, issues still abound with regards to traditional health practices, universal access to social health insurance, and the high risk social environment for sexually transmitted diseases. In order to increase facility based deliveries to improve the Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR), UNFPA supports equipment provision to Olongapo's health centers.
Although local disaster response is effective, the city still needs to work on functionally incorporating maternal and child health concerns into disaster planning. Capacity building on the UNFPA Minimum Initial Service Package (MISP) for Reproductive Health in Crisis Situations (see page 16) has been initiated, and is pending citywide implementation. With effective local leadership, manpower, and strong commitment from key stakeholders, the city is now embarking on further mobilizing resources to fully implement a comprehensive Disaster Management Program, so that disasters can be fully mitigated, and that unnecessary loss of life will no longer ensue.
2. Action Plan Progress
The Second 2007 Workshop Action Plan established a Disaster Volunteer Brigade (DVB), for community members to augment the activities of the Government's Disaster Management Office. An executive order was passed for the creation of the Brigade, outlining its organizational composition, role and functions. Then, members were recruited and trained on basic life support, disaster preparedness, the emergency response information system and referral, and the MISP. Awareness campaigns were conducted through the local media, and leaflets and fliers distributed to citizens.
The DVB was mobilized during Typhoon Labuyo and Typhoon Maring in September, 2009, when a state of emergency was declared, with 90 per cent of city roads flooded and 15 of 17 local communities severely affected. The Brigade has been successful in its work with the Government's City Disaster Coordinating Council (CDCC), due to the commitment and support from local leaders, a functionally equipped Disaster Management Office, the infrastructure available, a well established Socio-Economic Information System (supported by AUICK and UNFPA), and support from civil society. Some hindering factors, however, include competing priorities, natural hazard areas, and limited resources and technical capacities.
In the future, reproductive health care will be incorporated into the city's Disaster Management Program, a localized climate change adaptation ordinance will be formulated, resources will be mobilized to upgrade technical capacities and logistics, and successful practices will be replicated for improvement and expansion.
Climate change is expected to result in more frequent and severe hazards, which are likely to increase people's vulnerability, resulting in even more disasters. Ultimately, the success of the Action Plan will be limited unless concerted efforts from all stakeholders and other sectors are coordinated to achieve better health outcomes and effectively mitigate the effects of these natural disasters.
3. Proposed Action Plan Revision
The revised Action Plan of the First 2010 Workshop aims to sustain and expand the activities and membership of the Disaster Volunteer Brigade, by conducting disaster prevention training to the local community, increasing private sector and NGO participation, and raising funds to cover its running costs.
Firstly, the Mayor will be informed on the vulnerability of the city to natural disasters. Members of the DVB will again be recruited from the community, and their roles to augment the activities of the Disaster Management Office will be decided. Training will improve the Brigade's capacity to deal with the increasing threat of climate change related extreme weather conditions, and the private sector and local media will be enlisted for financial and promotional support. To coordinate its work with other organizations, the Brigade will increase collaboration with the Philippine Red Cross and local NGOs, the Soroptomist Group, Lion's Club and Rotary Club.
The Plan will incorporate schools, universities and local religious groups into its collaborative management, and further funding will come from bingo and raffle events, as well as the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).
Plan Time Frame: June 2010 –