DIPOLOG CITY – “Personal preparedness” is a key factor towards reducing the risk of natural hazards and preventing the disaster to occur. This was underscored by Dr. Renato U. Solidum, Jr., Director of Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) in his lecture during a symposium held in this City early this week.
Dr. Solidum was one of the two speakers of a symposium on hazard mitigation, preparedness and global warming held Monday in a local convention center here. Another speaker was Ms. Maribel Enriquez of Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).
The symposium is one of the highlights of the 2011 Regional Science and Technology Week (RSTW) celebration in Dipolog City, which started on July 4 and will end on July 9, spearheaded by the Department of Science and Technology Regional Office No. IX (DOST-IX).
In his presentation, Dr. Solidum enumerated at least five points where he said an individual can contribute towards hazard mitigation. These include: knowing the hazards in the area; prepare the workplace, houses for disaster; know what to do before, during and after a potential disaster; prepare evacuation plan, response plan, conduct drills; and conduct education and information campaign.
All these fall under the “self-help” category, which Dr. Solidum said should be the foundation of all the responses towards a resilient community. He added that the readiness of the community spells the success of any government-initiated disaster preparedness program.
“The effectiveness of the government programs largely depends on the individual preparedness. Even how good our programs are, if people are not ready and not prepared, we will not succeed,” he told the crowd of about 150, composed of officers from different government agencies, local government units, academe, businesses and non-government organizations.
He said natural hazards have become frequent in recent years. Even technologically-advanced countries are not spared. He cited his recent visit to Japan, which was recently devastated by an 8.9-magnitude earthquake and tsunami last March. He said Japan is one of the most technologically-advanced countries and yet Japan suffered heavily from that calamity.
The occurrence of a natural hazard he said is never predictable but if the community is ready, the disaster can at least be mitigated, he told the audience.
On the other hand, Ms. Enriquez presented some of the activities of the government weather bureau particularly on weather forecasting. She said PAGASA has acquired new equipments for that purpose.
“We have recently installed at least 20 automated weather stations nationwide. We have also new Doppler radars and other latest gadgets and equipments,” she revealed.
The two speakers also agreed that the PHIVOLCS and PAG-ASA forecasting can only do so much. The real work still lies on everyone’s responsibility. The two also urged the local government units to adopt measures that will make their communities and localities prepared for any unexpected calamities.
“Hindi Diyos ang PAGASA at PHIVOLCS (PAGASA and PHIVOLCS are not God). Our role is to provide reliable and accurate forecast data, but the real actions still depends on you, on how you will utilize those data for your preparedness plan,” Dr. Solidum concluded. (Nuhman Aljani and Thelma Diego, DOST-IX)