By Roy Mabasa
Three young Japanese volunteers have just concluded their activities in the Philippines to help the raise disaster management skills in some of the country’s most vulnerable areas such as Aklan, Negros Oriental and Albay.
The Japanese volunteers were dispatched under the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Volunteer Program to hold training and share Japanese technology and know-how on disaster management and help build the Philippines’ disaster resiliency efforts.
According to the 2018 World Risk Index Report, the Philippines, along with Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, and Brunei, are among the island nations with high risk in terms of natural disasters.
Japanese volunteer Natsuko Kitamura who was deployed in Negros Oriental said: “The Philippines has many disasters like earthquakes, tsunami, floods, and typhoons like Japan. I am training local government members on basic emergency response and operations using ambulance and fire trucks.”
In Aklan, Japanese volunteer Kazuyoshi Naito helped the local government in developing a manual for their emergency operations center, and trained personnel in the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (DRRMO) on basic life support, and rope and water rescue.
Aklan’s DRRMO official Terence June Toriano said they learned from Naito the importance of establishing a system in their tactical emergency operations center.
The operations center acts as a command center of the municipality in case of disasters and hosts the town’s Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) system for DRR monitoring and security, among others.
Aside from the training, the Japanese volunteers likewise conducted disaster education in schools and communities in Albay.
“As a JICA volunteer, I organize activities on disaster education in schools and barangays together with the local government. I also teach students how to prepare emergency kit using local materials,” said Japanese volunteer Naoaki Tsunoda.
Tsunoda held DRR seminars in schools, hazard mapping activities, and emergency drills with schools and communities as part of his technical assistance in DRR.
To date, JICA has dispatched a total of 1,662 Japanese volunteers in the Philippines to support disaster management, agriculture, planning, healthcare, human resources, social welfare, manufacturing, and tourism among others.
The program is part of the Japanese Official Development Assistance (ODA) to partner countries like the Philippines.