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Building Up the people for a more resilient community

Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City has around 70,000 residents and its jurisdiction is especially vulnerable to flooding because it is one of the city’ low-lying areas.

The community already had its fair share of challenges before, with their old practices having people jumbled up in an evacuation area proved to be not only hazardous for the health of the evacuees, but also unfavorable for the schools being designated as evacuation centers because it paralyzes its operations.

“Move Up came into our barangay to open their programs and we saw that it will benefit our constituents, and so we thought, why not give it a try?,”  Barangay Chairperson Rodel Lobo shares. Their council has made some realizations from how they do things and what needs to be improved. “Now, we are not using the schools as evacuation centers anymore, though we may still have basketball courts as designated evacuations areas, it will not be enough to take in all those who would be affected by calamity.”

Since there is not much open space in their barangay, the council approved to seek assistance from their neighboring barangays. “We have been considering to tie up with our neighbors, in case we’re going to get hit by a big disaster,” Rodel says, “especially when a big earthquake happens. Partnering with out barangays would provide us the space we need to temporarily house those who will be affected. We have also allocated a certain amount for the Alternative Temporary Shelter (ATS).”

Aside from the necessary materials in building ATS, the barangay council is also looking into allocating some budget for food provisions for their responders and evacuees. “We have learned to make allotments like these so that we wouldn’t be totally dependent on the assistance from outside and we will always be ready,” Rodel explains, “we already have go-bags where we put canned good, water, whistle, radio, and flashlights for those residents who needed it the most.”

For Rodel, the cooperation of his constituents is as important as having the policies and infrastructure in place. “We regularly send community leaders, barangay employees, and our rescue team to seminars and trainings in disaster preparedness. It was challenging at first to convince them to participate, but when they saw how well the program was and it would be beneficial to their work in the community, they willingly obliged. You just have to be really patient with things like these,” Rodel adds.

The barangay council has also allotted funds for getting the rescuers and volunteers insurances, because it is also important to take care and also protect the first responders. And as a way in making their barangay ready for anything, Rodel also aspires to have drills not just for earthquake, “we hope that we could also have drills for flood and fire, so that we would know how to respond and further improve on our practices.”

“The resilience of every barangay depend on the participation of it constituents, and not just with the barangay officials. The ability to bounce back needs to come from those within the community themselves, and we need everyone’s cooperation, from our officials, community leaders, business establishments, and other groups to participate in our programs,” Rodel adds.