It was in December 16, 2011 when Tropical Storm “Sendong” internationally named “Washi” that made its first landfall in Hinatuan. Since it had been just less than a year since the establishment of the Municipal DRRM Office was just less than a year, disaster preparedness was not yet in place. The municipal office realised that: a) pre-emptive evacuation was not properly executed; b) Barangay DRRMCs were not particularly functional and didn’t know what to do in the event of a disaster; c) residents didn’t know how to react in an emergency; d) relief distribution was disorganised and chaotic; and e) there was no system for assessing damage. Hence, we considered “Sendong” as our teacher.
A search for “Most Disaster Resilient Barangay” was launched, which aimed to equip 24 Barangay DRRM Committees (BDRRMCs) and all stakeholders with knowledge and skills in handling the event of an emergency and to intensify the awareness and capacitate the community through execution in four thematic areas of disaster management: disaster prevention and mitigation, disaster preparedness, disaster response, and disaster rehabilitation and recovery.
There was a competition in each barangay, involving schools and the wider community. With 2 categories to compete in, criteria were based on the gaps experienced during TS Sendong. The first category covered document availability such as spot maps, hazard maps, DRR-CCA policies and legislation, household data banking, DRR-CCA programmes and activities, and partnership mechanisms. The second category focused on Drills and Simulations. Three drills were executed by the barangay: earthquake drills, fire drills and one based on the hazard exposure of the barangay.
For the partnership mechanism, resources were pulled out from partner stakeholders. Memorandums of Agreement were forged between the barangay government and the following partners: transport groups, business sectors, chainsaw owners and operators, and private residential owners accredited as evacuation centres, etc.
Other actors involved in the activities included barangay officials and volunteers, peoples’ organisation, schools and the community.
The activities took place over the course of six months (from May-November 2012), including social preparation up to the culmination programme for the awarding of winners. Awards were in the form of rescue tools and equipment. The total cost was P500,000, which came out of the local DRRM Fund.