Some 70 participants from Asia attended the first part of the Disaster Preparedness and the Power of Local Leadership conference, sponsored by the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction (IIRR) and Give2Asia on March 6-8, 2017 held at the IIRR campus in Cavite. The second part on March 9-10 had some 90 participants in Makati, Manila with donors and other stakeholders in disaster risk reduction joining the delegates from the first part.

The first part focused on south-to-south sharing of innovative strategies and approaches in disaster risk reduction. It aimed to share and learn from the experiences of various leaders from different countries and their locals; provide venues or platforms for potential donors and partners for the organisation; and see the networks of local NGOs and explore south-to-south engagements.

Wilson John Barbon, Regional Program Manager, Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation, IIRR iterated “the importance of NGO leadership and how it plays a big role in development since NGOs have access and can reach out to the farthest communities.” He encouraged organisations to invest more in disaster preparedness as it can lessen the cost of rebuilding and recovery.

During the first part, at the session Donor Perspective: The Future of Disaster Preparedness Funding, representatives from the Asian Development Bank, the National Competitiveness Council and USAID/OFDA shared their thoughts on the challenges in disaster preparedness funding.

Disaster Risk Management Specialist (Climate Change Adaptation), Asian Development Bank of Arghya Sinha Roy relayed how the lack of understanding of disaster impacts must be addressed, especially the calculation of loss not only in terms of physical assets but also of what survivors go through psychologically and emotionally after a disaster. He noted that a cost-benefit analysis must also be done to get real data on how investments in disaster risk reduction redounds to more benefits.

Guillermo Luz, Private Sector Co-Chairman, National Competitiveness Council and Chief Resilience Officer and Advisor, Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation, explained how there should be a shift of mindset away from response and towards disaster risk reduction and resilience. He also commented on how more effort is required to influence decision makers and communities to invest in disaster reduction and management.

Ben Hemmingway, Regional Advisor at USAID/OFDA, agreed that a study must be conducted to make a case as to why disaster risk reduction must continue and be provided with expanded funding.

“The conference has allowed local and grass root organizations from various countries in Southeast Asia and Asia Pacific to share good practices and innovative approaches on disaster risk reduction and preparedness. It also allowed local leaders to interact and learn from each other on effective leadership engagements with government and donors to support local and grassroots initiatives.”

-Mark Cervantes, Humanitarian Leadership Academy Philippines Centre

The support of the Humanitarian Leadership Academy Philippines Centre to the workshop and through social media promotion are part of a larger collaboration with IIRR to strengthen south-to-south learning through dialogue and sharing of best practices. Together with IIRR, the centre will now move to producing a publication on Asia Disaster Risk Reduction experiences.

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