The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is closely monitoring the effects of Tropical Depression Agaton, the first cyclone to hit the country this year which made a landfall on Monday  in CARAGA region, even as the Department continues its relief operations for ‘Vinta’ and ‘Urduja’- affected families.

Based on the January 3, 2am disaster report of DSWD-Disaster Response and Management Bureau (DreaMB), some 3,879 families or 16,146 persons coming from 109 barangays in Regions 6, 7, 10, and CARAGA have been affected by ‘Agaton’.

According to the same report, there are 56 evacuation centers in said regions providing temporary shelter to 1,435 displaced families or 5,826 persons.

The report also noted 498 individuals stranded in Region VII.

DSWD-Officer-in-Charge Emmanuel Leyco said that the Department is ready to augment the relief goods of the affected local government units (LGUs).

“As we face the challenge of the first disaster to hit our country this year, we assure the public of the Department’s vigilance in the disaster operations for affected families, even as continue with the relief operations for those devastated by ‘Vinta’ and ‘Urduja’. We assure the public, especially those affected, that DSWD has ample relief goods to augment the resources of the LGUs in serving the needs of the affected families,” he said.

Discussions on climate change

OIC Leyco also expressed grief anew over the deaths caused by Typhoons Vinta and Urduja.

“So many Filipinos died because of natural calamities we should have been better prepared against.  This 2018, we will work harder at improving our disaster preparedness mechanisms down to the community level, and we enjoin all local government units as well as our partners in the private sector to continue coordinating on programs, activities, and campaigns that will strengthen the Filipino people’s resilience against disasters.  Having said this, however, it is also urgent to address other issues that contribute to the devastating impact of natural disasters. Among these issues are climate change and the necessity of good governance when it comes to addressing disaster management and relief programs,” OIC Leyco stated.

OIC Leyco said that the DSWD will further popularize and improve its module on climate change and disaster preparedness ( Topic 3: “Towards a Safe and Prepared Community”)  and ensure that it will be widely disseminated and discussed among members of the Pantawid ng Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), as well as work with the  Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to educate and empower local communities to take action on climate change.

The DSWD is the Vice-Chair of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), and as such it has the responsibility to help capacitate LGUs along disaster mitigation and response.

“We have to fast-track and escalate efforts to generate greater public awareness on climate change and the connection between environmental degradation and the worsened impact of natural calamities on our communities. It is imperative for Filipinos to know that climate change is a serious issue that we need to confront and address because it severely worsens the already serious effects of natural calamities on our country,” he said.

“At the DSWD, we can help more Filipinos be more conscious about the need to protect the environment and stop actions that worsen climate change by discussing these issues among our 4Ps beneficiaries and the communities under the Kalahi-CIDSS program.”

OIC Leyco said that the DSWD will help prepare communities become more resilient against disasters through information caravans on climate change and disaster preparation measures.

“We should never lose sight of our goal of zero casualties during calamities. We want our communities to be stronger against calamities,” he concluded. ###