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Community-led initiatives for disaster risk reduction set for launching in Surigao City

by Ben Serrano

BUTUAN CITY, Nov. 15 (Philippines News Agency) — A community-driven campaign for climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction dubbed “Depensa!” will be launched in Surigao City on Thursday, Nov. 18.

Spearheaded by Oxfam and the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (iCSC), the “Depensa!” campaign aims to create high community awareness and action on the need for climate change adaptation and to call on government to take the lead in protecting public welfare and advancing real sustainable development in a climate changing world.

“Rolling out a campaign calling for the defense of

livelihoods and ecosystems is urgent,” said iCSC’s Director Red Constantino.

“In Mindanao, the impacts of climate change are increasingly felt from extreme weather events that cause floods or severe drought, especially in the areas of Agusan del Sur, Agusan del Norte, and Sultan Kudarat, adversely affecting agricultural production and settlements. On the other hand, coastal communities in Surigao del Sur are in danger of rising sea and tidal levels,” according to Marie Madamba-Nunez of Oxfam.

Oxfam’s Mindanao Program currently supports partners in ensuring that sustainable livelihoods of small rural producers are protected and resilient from natural and human-induced disasters in selected areas in the region.

Climate change impacts in the Philippines are expected to intensify the frequency and severity of extreme weather events, which are projected to hit vulnerable communities, particularly in rural areas, disproportionately.

The Depensa! campaign supports bills filed in the Senate and the House of Representatives seeking to establish a People’s Survival Fund (PSF).

The PSF intends to finance adaptation programs and projects of local governments and communities.

“The PSF is critical to communities, who should not have to wait for the occurrence of climate change-induced calamities before they are able to access funds to cope with anticipated climatic impacts. Neither should they have to tap budgets for essential social services in order to fund adaptation initiatives,” said Lourd de Veyra of Dakila, an artist supporting the Depensa! campaign.

“We expect the Depensa! campaign to contribute key lessons and opportunities during this critical time, when government is undertaking discussions about the country’s budget and its medium-term development plan,” Constantino said.

The Depensa! launching will be held at Philippine Gateway Hotel in Surigao City.

Local governments, community representatives and civil society groups, largely from Mindanao, and members of the legislature will be attending the meeting, including representatives of the executive such as the Climate Change Commission.

Oxfam works to alleviate poverty and suffering in the Philippines and in other countries around the world. The Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities is a Manila-based think tank working on fair climate policy and sustainable energy solutions. (PNA)

Story also in Bayanihan.org

Photo by Reina/iCSC.