AUSTRALIA SUPPORTS DISASTER RISK REDUCTION IN THE PHILIPPINES
On 26 September 2009, a year ago today, Tropical Storm ‘Ondoy’ recorded the highest rainfall and worst flooding in the Philippines in over four decades. ‘Ondoy’ submerged most of Metro Manila – in some places for weeks, even months - and many nearby provinces.
Australia was one of the first countries to respond to the needs of those who were severely affected – providing emergency assistance totalling over Php440 million for food aid and emergency supplies of drinking water, food, clothing, hygiene and health kits.
In remembrance of the anniversary of Ondoy, Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Rod Smith said: “The loss of life and damage caused by last year’s typhoons shocked Australians. It was a tragic reminder of how prone the Philippines is to natural disasters and climate change.”
In the months after Ondoy and typhoons Pepeng and Santi, Australia replaced damaged school books and computers, and repaired 100 classrooms in Metro Manila to ensure these would withstand future natural disasters. Assistance was also given to develop a surveillance system to monitor and track the incidence of diseases after disasters. Australia continued its support to enhance risk analysis and tropical cyclone forecasting for the Philippines, and to build safer communities by strengthening community-based disaster preparedness.
“In the year since Ondoy struck, Australia has expanded its assistance to the Philippines Government and other partners to ensure that the country is better prepared to manage and respond to future disasters and emergencies, and that disaster risk reduction initiatives will be effective in saving lives and property. We intend to deepen our support in this area,” Ambassador Smith said.
Later this year Australia will launch a package of further assistance for Metro Manila. The assistance will include bolstering the capacity of Philippine technical agencies to understand vulnerability to disasters. Using state-of-the-art technology, Australia will assist the Philippines to build more accurate risk profiles of Metro Manila to model the impact of natural disasters in terms of human casualties, damage to houses and critical infrastructure, and crop losses. This will enable government and communities to better understand their vulnerability to earthquakes, floods and severe wind so that they can prepare and fund their disaster action plans.
Australia and the Philippines have a strong relationship, underpinned by over 50 years of partnership in development cooperation. The aid partnership with the Philippines is one of Australia’s largest, with more than Php20 billion in official development assistance over the last five years. Australia’s current annual aid to the Philippines is estimated at over Php 4.5 billion – placing Australia amongst the top grant donors to the Philippines. ENDS