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The Department of Finance (DOF), the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), the European Union (EU) and the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) Group launched a disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) program on Friday to enhance local government units (LGUs) readiness capacities.

The Disaster Risk Reduction Enhancement at the Local Level Technical Assistance (DRREALL TA) Program aims to support the DILG in reinforcing local government units, specifically in building and enhancing existing capabilities in key DRRM aspects. The DRREALL TA Program will cover activities to address critical gaps, namely, risk-informed planning, integrated capacity development strategies, effective local DRRM funds’ utilization, and gender sensitive and socially inclusive disaster response towards ensuring the readiness and protection of citizens especially the vulnerable.

The Program also aims to conduct high-level policy dialogue among government and non-government stakeholders in setting important policy directions and solutions that foster co-ownership and accountability.

Co-funded by the EU and the AFD, the EUR4.28 million or PHP256 million TA accompanies a programmatic policy-based loan by the French government amounting to EUR250 million to the Government of the Philippines in 2021.

The DRREALL TA Program will be implemented by the Expertise France and will run from 2024 to 2027 in close partnership among DILG, LGUs, partner national agencies and French institutions.

In a recorded statement, the DOF said that the DRREALL Program is a fitting solution to the Philippines’ ongoing battle against climate change. “Given our archipelagic nature, each locality in the Philippines faces its own unique set of challenges and vulnerabilities. This [DRREALL Program] will allow us to empower our local government units as we develop climate projects and programs uniquely tailored to their specific needs. By doing so, we ensure sensitivity to localities and increase the likelihood of achieving the greatest positive impact for our people,” said Secretary Ralph G. Recto.

EU Ambassador Luc Véron stated, “The European Union is proud to be able to continue supporting the Philippines’ efforts to improve the country’s climate resilience, most especially at the local level, through blended financing, in partnership with AFD.  This project responds fully to the Government’s objective to address Climate Change in a more effective and coordinated manner, and should help to take practical steps and support LGUs to move from plans to action.  DRREALL is one element in a larger framework of partnership - the Team Europe Green Economy Initiative. As part of this initiative, the EU launched recently the EUR60 million EU-Philippines Green Economy Programme, which will focus on the Philippines’ transition towards a more circular economy, reducing waste and plastic, as well as increasing energy efficiency and renewable energy”.

“The DILG stands firm in our mandate to lead local government units in shaping strategies for local governance, including developing policies, and programs relevant to protecting most especially our local citizens from natural and human-induced hazards. The strengthening of LGUs in delivering devolved services will always be at the forefront of our vision for a climate resilient Philippines. We encourage all stakeholders identified in the implementation of the DRREALL TA activities, to pledge their active engagement, valuable knowledge, and technical expertise for the successful implementation of the Program”, said DILG Undersecretary Marlo L. Iringan.

For Mr. Philippe Orliange, AFD Executive Director of All Countries’ Operation, the Philippines is an important stakeholder in advancing France’s Indo-Pacific strategy. “The Southeast Asian region houses 14 of the 20 most climate-exposed countries, 54% of the global population, and contributes to 40% of the global GDP. Through a EUR250 million policy-based operation in 2021, AFD demonstrated its commitment to a long-term partnership with the Philippines on a territorial approach to enhance adaptation capacities to climate change. Further, we are mobilizing our French expertise network through the CEREMA (public expertise agency for ecological transition and regional planning) for flood risk planning and Expertise France as DRREALL TA project implementor.”

A panel discussion with the theme “Carving a Collaborative Path on the Philippines’ disaster risk management” followed the ceremonial exchange of the Trilateral Memorandum of Understanding and the Technical Cooperation Memorandum for the DRREALL TA Program on Friday. The panel was joined by DILG Usec. Marlo Iringan, Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Assistant Secretary Rodolfo Calzado, Jr., Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP) Executive Director Aileen Leycano, AFD Executive Director Philippe Orliange and Expertise France Deputy Director of the Peace, Security and Stability Department Olivier Sublard. A deepdive and Q&A sessions also followed in the afternoon.

According to the 2023 World Risk Index, the Philippines ranks as the country with the highest disaster risk worldwide alongside multiple exposures, high intensities and severe impact due to flooding, storm surges, typhoons, and landslides. According to the national weather bureau PAGASA, 20 tropical cyclones enter the Philippine Area of Responsibility per year on average. Since 2009, extreme weather events such as Typhoons Ondoy, Pepeng, Sendong caused over 3,000 deaths, directly affected more than 10 million people and led to economic loss and damages amounting to approximately USD5.7 million. The most intense of which is typhoon Haiyan, which caused more than 6300 deaths and economic destruction valued at approximately USD2.3 billion.

More than a decade ago, the Government of the Philippines has developed Republic Act 10121 or the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act with an accompanying roadmap aiming to advance the central role of local authorities in climate adaptation and resilience improvement efforts.

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