TACLOBAN CITY– A leading humanitarian and development organization has urged local governments in the country “to shift from reactive spending to a proactive approach by utilizing local calamity funds, also known as the Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Funds (LDRRMF) effectively.”

“We cannot afford another Yolanda devastating people’s lives. We learned the hard way that the best way to reduce the impacts of a climate crisis is by preparing early for an imminent disaster,” Oxfam Pilipinas Executive Director Erika Geronimo said.

The group’s call came as the country commemorated the 10th year of Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), which affected more than 14 million people across 46 provinces on November 8, 2013.

Citing their new study entitled “Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund Utilization Patterns and Opportunities for Improvement,” it said that local government units (LGUs) “tend to spend their 30 percent quick response funds (QRF) in response to actual disasters but are less likely to spend a significant portion of the 70 percent disaster preparedness and mitigation fund.”

It will be better if local governments proactively utilize their 70 percent mitigation/preparedness funds that do not require a declaration of State of Calamity instead of merely expending their 30 percent QRF when disaster strikes, it said.
The report cited the annual audit reports of the Commission on Audit, which pointed out a chain of delays from plan submission to liquidation of funds, resulting in the annual accumulation of unspent funds.”

“It added that this bureaucratic inefficiency means that a substantial portion of funds that could have been spent on enhancing community disaster preparedness remains unspent, resulting in fewer investments to address the disproportional impacts of disasters on vulnerable groups,” the humanitarian group said in a statement.

Oxfam Pilipinas reminded LGUs that they “must listen to the voices of communities and co-create solutions to reduce risks and impacts of disasters before they even happen.”
“We should ensure that our humanitarian response helps communities prepare for the next disaster,” Geronimo said.

Meanwhile, the group encouraged local officials to also “prioritize the nuanced and differentiated needs of women, girls, persons with disabilities, indigenous people, the elderly, the youth, and people of diverse sexual orientations, gender identities, expressions, and characteristics (SOGIESC).”

“Their active participation in all stages of decision-making ensures that any humanitarian response is appropriate and builds more resilient communities,” it said.

“Inclusive and community-based disaster preparedness, along with anticipatory actions such as pre-disaster cash assistance, are effective strategies to reduce the devastating effects of the climate crisis,” added People’s Disaster Risk Reduction Network Executive Director Esteban Masagca.

Oxfam Pilipinas and its partners maintained that anticipatory action programs “have influenced government policies and actions to act preemptively when predetermined triggers are met.”