Re-post: Watery Veil (Reflections from the YLKD Session on DRRM)

originally posted here:

The night is the first of many. The shadow’s veil brought the rain. Her ensemble breath, the wind; she knocks on the roofs of every household, she looks for directions to the sea. As she journeys down from the highest heavens she fills the concrete road with her unstoppable curtain of transparent silk.

She grows weary by the hours lost. Then she spills her discontent with force of a nature’s watery stampede. Classes are suspended. Stores are closed. Work is stopped. The streets are empty but the ripple of her tears below the moonless sky. Her heart bleeds slowly for the lost of the night.

Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) is the go to buzz word of technocrats, politicians, specialists, media, and the rest of the bureaucratic pool in times of before, during, and after natural or man-made disasters. ‘We need to improve our DRRM capability says one talking head after flash floods that devastated thousands of square kilometres of riverbed communities. We need to mitigate the risks says another.’ But what are they talking about behind the verbose jargon and technical vocabulary. What does the common ‘tao’ should know about disaster preparedness and hazard mitigation.

For many decades the nation’s premiere urban sprawl, the national capital region; has withstood record breaking rainfall and floods. Every year thousands of lives are at risk for they live in the most high risk areas historically known to be flood basins or watersheds. Yet, we do nothing; for we are human. And it is in our fallacious nature for inaction when problems are too far away to be seen or felt. We pray, we curse, we weep for everything that we have lost.

The situation we are in did not happen at the flash of lighting. This was the cumulative result of political immaturity, technical incompetence, and ultimately the lack of reasonable thinking in planning urban settlements. Plans were made to make Metro Manila one of the most liveable cities in the world. But despite the best thought out plans, political considerations diluted these into mere obscure footnotes.

Fortunately, there are those who want the best for the security of our future. There are those who are willing to persevere in sparking the torch of enlightenment. There are those who are highly capable to institutionalize reforms in our planning. There are those who know.

In the following months, the World Bank Philippines Country Office in partnership with the Department of Science and Technology will launch the local edition of InaSafe (Indonesia Safe). It is a program that simulates the effects of hazards in a geo specific location. It can produce data that would help planners in relief operations, camp management, and land use planning. Hopefully, with the guidance of science’s inquisitive nature, policy makers and politicians themselves would use this tool for the safety of our people.

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