AUSTRALIA AND THE PHILIPPINES STRENGTHEN PARTNERSHIP ON DISASTER RISK MANAGEMENT
Australia and the Philippines have strengthened their partnership on disaster risk management with the launch today of two new projects that will help improve the Philippines’ capacity to adapt to climate change and increase the country’s resilience to natural disasters.
“The Philippines is highly vulnerable to natural disasters and their severity and impacts are predicted to intensify with climate change. Natural disasters prevent the poor from escaping poverty, pull others back into poverty, and cause untold human tragedy for Filipinos. A single disaster can set back the Philippines’ economic prospects and retard progress towards the Millennium Development Goals,” Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Rod Smith said.
“The loss of life and damage caused by last year’s typhoons, Ondoy, Pepeng and Santi, shocked Australians. In the year since these storms, Australia has expanded its assistance to ensure that the country is better prepared to manage future disasters, and that disaster risk reduction initiatives will be effective in saving lives and property. With the launch of these two new projects, Australia is deepening its support in this area.”
The Australian Government will provide Php360 million (A$9 million) over the next three years to help bolster the capacity of Philippine technical agencies to assess vulnerability to disasters to inform preventive planning and action. The Australian Government, through the Australian Agency for International Development and Geoscience Australia, will work closely with the Philippines National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), and technical agencies, such as the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority, and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, on these projects.
“In human terms, the mortality and economic risks facing the Philippines are concentrated in highly urbanised areas, particularly Metro Manila,” Ambassador Smith said. “This reality argues for an urgent effort to generate credible disaster risk information to inform planning and development in metropolitan areas, where the human and economic costs of natural disasters and climate change are potentially the greatest.”
Australia will commit Php260 million (A$6.5 million) to support the Philippines to generate digital information and maps for Metro Manila through a survey using state-of-the-art Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) technology. LiDAR information will build more accurate risk profiles of Metro Manila to model the impacts of 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 will also provide Php100 million (A$2.5 million) to partner with the United Nations Development Programme to assist the NDRRMC develop a Metro Manila-wide hazard and vulnerability map using existing and available data within 12 months and building on the Project READY experience. This project will help address the immediate need for information on Metro Manila’s risk and vulnerability assessment for all relevant hazards (e.g. typhoons, flooding, earthquakes).
“Both projects will help underwrite better disaster risk management in the Philippines. The risk information resulting from these projects will allow the government to target disaster risk reduction funding more effectively by, for example, identifying schools and hospitals requiring retrofitting to become hazard-resilient,” Ambassador Smith said. “Australia is pleased to provide the government with practical support towards the ultimate goal: a Philippines where every Filipino community is safe and more resilient to the risks and impacts of natural disasters and climate change.”
Australia is a long-standing development partner of the Philippines and one of the country’s largest bilateral grant aid donors. The Philippines aid program is one of Australia’s largest with more than Php20 billion in official development assistance in the last five years including Php750 million in disaster risk management and emergency response.