European Union (EU) Ambassador Luc Véron has encouraged the people of Itogon, Benguet to build sustainable and resilient communities to lessen their vulnerability to disasters.
During his first regional outreach, Véron underscored thet “it is better to be prepared and proactive rather than being reactive.”
“It is our goal to assist civil society organizations and barangay officials so that they can have a voice in disaster and climate risk governance,” he added.
The ambassador, as part of his visit, also handed over disaster and climate risk modules and early warning kits to Itogon civil society organizations and local government officials. These materials take into account the needs of people with disabilities in the event of disasters.
Itogon Mayor Victorio Palangdan thanked the European Union for the assistance it rendered to Itogon as it enjoined local communities to help protect Itogon’s environment.
“Our barangay has made use of the mega-phone and other early warning devices initially given to Tinongdan most especially when we were hit by typhoon Maring,” said Barangay Captain Edwin Atumpay of Tinongdan, Itogon.
With the EMPOWER project (Empowering Municipalities, Barangays, Civil Society Organisations and People’s Organizations through Working Together to Enhance Disaster and Climate Risk Governance), the European Union contributes to strengthening the resilience of high-risk communities and their involvement in disaster risk governance. The project mobilises municipal champions for disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation, facilitating capacity-building activities where all sectors are able to learn from each other.
The project started in January 2020 and is implemented by the Adventist Development and Relief Agency, and Humanity and Inclusion. The EU has provided a total of P22 million grant for this initiative.
It covers nine barangays in Itogon and 23 barangays in Pinukpuk in Kalinga.
During Véron’s visit to Itogon he also met with Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong, indigenous peoples’ leaders, local artists including Baguio-based national artist Ben Cabrera, and members of the academic community.