IIRR has been working in a flood-affected urban municipality in Cavite, Philippines, for almost 3 years now. One of our colleagues in this endeavor is Rogel Paje, a barangay leader. He has been involved with IIRR’s community-managed disaster risk reduction (CMDRR) initiative since its inception to help his village become better prepared and resilient against flooding. This is his story.
What happened on September 28, 2008 was like a nightmare for many of us residents in Rosario, Cavite. Floodwaters reached to a height of 18 feet. Houses were submerged; our clothes and household items were washed away and destroyed. Only mud and trash were left in our houses and streets after the floodwaters receded. Our town is often in danger of flooding during the rainy season. The floodwaters damaged our properties and many people stopped doing their livelihoods.
Being a leader in our village, I was skeptical at first if CMDRR can solve the floods that we experience almost every year. But I continued to participate in IIRR activities. We were trained to conduct a hazard assessment – a very important step in assessing risks. We were able to determine the threats or hazards in our village. We made a vulnerability and hazard map from where we collectively identified the areas that are in danger of severe flooding, the depth of flooding in each area, and the number of households that will be affected by the floods.
We also learned about the reasons why our village is affected by floods. The main cause of flooding is the inadequate waterways compounded by the fact that our village lies along the coastline and that our town is a catch basin of our province. Using this information as I was a member of the village council, we prepared an action plan to address these causes of floods. We allocated some of our funds to rehabilitate the waterways. We also conducted a massive information drive to keep our barangay clean. Finally we organized our own community emergency response team with clear preparedness plan so that we can help our own residents during flood emergencies.
We may still experience deep flood waters but we are now ready and the floods may not be as horrifying as the floods in 2008.