Preparing for disaster and the effects of climate change

drrm-relief-philippines-occci.jpg10 September | 2015

Natural disasters affect everybody; however low-income earners are generally the ones that suffer the most. The Philippines is the third highest country at risk for natural disasters next to Vanuatu and Tonga. Some of these disasters occur more frequently as a result of climate change. Rising sea levels due to global warming are also a concern for the Philippines, being the fifth country in the world with the highest number of population-at-risk from sea level rise by 2050.

Natural disasters heavily affect the agriculture sector, with devastating loss of crops, livestock and feed which also threatens food security and farmers’ ability to meet traders’ supply demands. They also disrupt cropping patterns and affect water supply. With smallholder farmers being some of the lowest-income earners in the world, they are highly vulnerable to the effects of natural disasters and climate change.

A pilot programme

Because of these reasons, the Philippines was chosen by Oikocredit as a pilot area for a Disaster Risk Reduction & Management (DRRM) training programme for partners. Oikocredit began this initiative early in 2014 in the light of typhoon Haiyan and other disasters that devastated different countries in recent years. The programme aims to increase partner awareness on DRRM; equip them with practical tools, such as hazard vulnerability assessments, hazard mapping, crafting contingency plans and business continuity planning; and formulating DRRM strategies that are appropriate for their own context and environment.

A long-term strategy

A long-lasting approach has been developed to minimize loss of lives, crops and property by helping partners develop their DRRM strategies and business continuity plans. It is in Oikocredit’s interest to support its partners’ strategy for improving disaster resilience and reducing its risks. As if by fate, Typhoon Ruby, the second strongest tropical cyclone in the Philippines in 2014, struck after the training workshop. Staff from Filipino credit cooperative and Oikocredit partner, OCCCI, attended the DRRM training workshop. Father Elmo Manching, chairperson of OCCCI’s board of directors, said: “The training sponsored by Oikocredit helped us to better prepare ourselves. What we learnt enabled us to move forward and look to the future with increased confidence.”

Integrating DRRM and environmental protection

Many of Oikocredit’s partners worldwide understand the consequences of climate change, particularly to the agriculture sector. Many Oikocredit partners have integrated environmental protection into every aspect of their working practices, as well as introducing disaster preparedness mechanisms into business plans. The DRRM programme is now being revised to be adapted to other countries such as Cambodia, Vietnam and Indonesia.

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