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Preparing for Super Typhoon Ompong

Barangay Malabago DPO holds emergency meeting to prepare for Typhoon Ompong Alay Bayan-Luson Facebook page

Communities in Luzon Island, Philippines, apply community-based disaster risk management (CBDRM) practices to prepare for yet another super typhoon.

GNDR and its project partners were gearing up for the last of 6 peer-to-peer international exchange visits between local CSOs, where CBDRM practices are shared among participants from different countries in the same region. The last exchange was scheduled to take place in Aurora province, Central Luzon region, in the Philippines: host and visitor participants (coming from India) were already packing their suitcases, when they got the warning that a super typhoon was going to make landfall in the region just a few days before the activity would start.

Typhoon Ompong (internationally named Mangkhut), a super storm expected to bring winds at the speed of up to 255 km/hour, is approaching the Philippines, putting 5 million people at risk and expecting to cause disruption to 25 provinces in the island of Luzon.

As soon as the government authority PAGASA issued the initial warning, communities in the areas at risk started mobilising: the community-based and community-led Disaster Preparedness Organisations (DPOs), active in several villages, have received the warnings and started preparing for the worst.

These structures were set up within the context of reinforcing community-based disaster risk management, and have been conducting a series of activities which turn extremely valuable in moments like this: community training on preparedness and response, organisation of volunteer task groups for evacuation and relief distribution, and development of early warning systems aimed at reaching the most vulnerable and marginalised groups. All community members have a role to play, whether they are women, indigenous people, children or people with disabilities.

With the support of the local government and the barangay (the village authorities), DPOs are extremely busy these days putting CBDRM in practice. Some are sent out to alert the population through megaphones, others are working to reinforce the roofs of their homes and helping their neighbours, and others are supporting early evacuation in the villages most at risk. Emergency meetings are held at village level, and coordination among villages and between local and national authorities happens continuously via phone and SMS.

As communities in the Philippines brace themselves for yet another super-hazard, early action and CBDRM is proving essential to reduce the impacts and ensure a swift recovery. Typhoon Ompong is expected to make landfall in the morning of Saturday 15 September, according to the latest PAGASA’s weather bulletin.

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