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Disaster preparedness on the coast

15. January 2019 - Philippines
In the past ten years, 68 typhoons have hit the Philippine island of Samar and destroyed the livelihoods of thousands of families. Natural disasters must be expected to continue, not least because climate change is advancing. The Philippines ranks third in the world risk index of natural disasters. arche noVa therefore promotes disaster prevention on the ground. The focus is on people, their commitment and changes in behaviour.

In the project communities arche noVa works closely together with the local and regional authorities. Disaster control exercises are carried out. To this end, helpers have been trained. Rogelio T. Labado is one of them. The 39-year-old comes from the Sato district and is a paramedic. During Typhoon Urduja a few months ago, his commitment was called for when the new evacuation centre built by arche noVa in Marabut was used for the first time. For three days, 20 families found shelter here. Thanks to Rogelio Labado and the other members of the prevention team, they were well cared for.

Since the arche noVa project, disaster prevention has also been part of Minda Valentin's life. The 64-year-old has planted several hundred seedlings on the coast in the Pinalangga district. "I used to cut down mangroves as Christmas trees" she tells us about the time before the devastating typhoon Haiyan in 2013. At the local partner organisation of arche noVa, FHP, she learned the importance of mangroves for coastal protection. "Since then we have planted many young plants. Sometimes we also bring our children with us so that they can learn something". Minda Valentin and the volunteer team are committed to the forests. "We keep people from destroying nature." Illegal logging is widespread on Samar because the income of many families is low.

Renz Gravador is one of those who wants to change people's behaviour. He is the youngest member of the volunteer group of the mangrove plantation area at Barangay Pinalangga. His headmaster supports the 17-year-old student in his commitment. He has given Renz school-free for a three-day exchange programme in South-Leyte. So the teenager could learn even more about mangroves and their meaning. Since then he has been passing on his knowledge. In particular, he appeals to his classmates and other young people of the same age to convince them to do something for the environment.

arche noVa has been working on Samar since January 2016 and has supported around 10,000 people in 13 districts. The disaster prevention and management measures include the construction of new evacuation centres, the conversion of a cave into an evacuation centre, the holding of workshops on disaster control, the establishment of a dialogue platform to involve the local population and, above all, the creation of mangroves and beach forests.

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