MANILA, APRIL 5, 2011 
(STAR) By Alexis Romero - Disaster management experts have cited the need for Public-Private Partnership (PPP) projects on disaster risk reduction, noting that the Philippines is vulnerable to natural calamities.

Susana Cruz, Office of Civil Defense regional director for Metro Manila, said companies should consider putting disaster response projects in their corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs.

“We call on our private sector partners. Let it (disaster risk mitigation) be part of your CSR...It’s not only the work of the government to plan for disasters. All of us are stakeholders,” Cruz said during the Protect 2011: Doing Business Amidst New Threats forum in Makati recently.

Cruz said the involvement of the private sector is needed given that the government still lacks equipment to deal with catastrophes.

“When it comes to capacity, they (private sector) have more assets and resources that’s why we have the public-private partnership,” she told The STAR on the sidelines of the conference.

Kenneth Hartigan-Go of the Asian Institute of Management Center for Development Management said the PPP would allow the government to invest on risk reduction despite the huge deficit.

“I think this is where public private partnership should come in. Business cannot operate in an environment where it is risky. I think it is where we can appeal on their good sense of social responsibility to partner with local communities,” he said.

Go said it is important to put funds on human resources who will implement disaster management programs.

“It’s easy to say we need to allot money but that money should be used in the effective and proper way...You need to train local chief executives and various provincial administrators on where to invest, what to buy, and who to train,” he said.

“We have problems with the central government not having updated equipment but it’s not just the equipment. Even though you have equipment, you should have proper skills to interpret it.”

Go said investments should also be made on risk mapping and training.

“It should be continuous training. People come and go...There should be some form of transformation, passing the baton and we have to see where the money actually goes,” he said.

The government is resorting to PPP to bankroll key projects without bloating the budget deficit, which is expected to hit P298.5 billion this year.

Sanjay Srivastava, regional adviser of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission (ESCAP), said the Philippines should be more prepared since it is more prone to disasters than other countries.

“If you compare the levels of exposure you had to the variety of disasters including volcanic eruption, typhoons, the Philippines is exposed to, you may require a little more preparedness considering the vulnerability,” he said.

Srivastava said countries must invest on resilient infrastructure to lessen the economic impact of disasters.

“If your infrastructure is resilient, your growth will not be affected. You may need investment in building your critical infrastructure but that investment is worth it considering the disaster vulnerability of the Philippines,” he said.

Srivastava said the Asia Pacific region, where the Philippines is located, is four times more likely to be affected by natural disasters than Africa and 25 times more than Europe and Northern America.

He said Asia Pacific just contributed one quarter of the world’s gross domestic product but accounted for a staggering 85 percent of deaths and 38 percent of economic loss from 1980 to 2009.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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