By Elvie Anipew
A new howler siren in Barangay San Andres, Cainta, Rizal, Philippines is providing a big boost in strengthening the early warning system (EWS) of the community. With funding from the United States Agency for International Development/Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA), the newly installed howler siren will benefit 47,200 individuals most of whom are urban poor and live in flood-prone areas. The howler siren can reach a radius of 3.5 kilometers, thus, many residents can clearly hear the siren.
Residents are quick to acknowledge the benefits of the warning device. According to Nida Midorial, who lives in barangay San Andres, all her life, she never heard a howler siren before. “Ever since I lived here, it is only now that I have heard the sound of a siren. When there is an impending flood, the barangay officials issue alert warning through megaphones or go house to house. Sometimes, the warning do not reach our side as we live in the interior part of Floodway and the alleyways going to our house are very narrow.” said Nida. “I’d be lucky if my neighbors inform us.” Nida is also one of the Purok Coordinators of CRS’ Project SUCCESS or Strengthening Urban Communities’ Capacities to Endure Severe Shocks.
Nida said the first time she heard the howler siren was last September 15, around 5:00 in the afternoon when Typhoon Ferdie (international name Meranti) affected some areas in Metro Manila. “We heard the siren all the way here in West Bank Floodway. When we heard it, we were able to prepare our ‘disaster go bags kit’ and warn other neighbors. Thankfully, we did not hear another warning to evacuate,” said Nida.
San Andres, Cainta is just one of the 22 at-risk barangays in and around Metro Manila where CRS is working to increase community resilience to flooding and other disasters. Aside from this, Barangay and community members are trained in Community-Based Disaster Risk Reduction Management (CDDRRM) techniques, with an emphasis on risk assessment, mapping and contingency planning.
CRS is also working with barangay officials to incorporate disaster risk reduction into formal barangay development plans and to increase local government capacity for longer term DRRM and emergency response.