Located along the Pacific Ring of Fire, the Philippines is highly vulnerable to natural disasters such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, as well as typhoons.
This extreme susceptibility of the country to life-threatening natural events prompted the One Meralco Foundation (OMF), the social development arm of the Manila Electric Company (Meralco), to take on a more active role in helping the government enhance disaster response planning of cities and municipalities across the country.
Through its support to the rollout of the web application PlanSmart Ready to Rebuild, OMF and Meralco aim to contribute to the government’s agenda of utilizing research and innovation, science-based decision making, and multi-sector collaboration to enhance disaster risk reduction and management.
In addition, this will help local government units (LGUs) to attain the national government’s agenda to establish livable and sustainable communities by fostering resiliency against natural disasters.
“The PlanSmart Ready to Rebuild is an investment for the safety and survival of our people and the livelihoods and communities we have built. PlanSmart is a very important downpayment. It is now our responsibility to pay for the balance by learning to utilize this for the good of the country and its future,” OMF President Jeffrey O. Tarayao said.
Developed by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, in collaboration with the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, Office of Civil Defense, supported by the Government of Japan, Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery, and the World Bank, the PlanSmart Ready to Rebuild web app speeds up the development of rehabilitation and recovery programs and supports evidence-based decision-making and planning for pre- and post- disaster events.
It is also envisioned to revolutionize disaster risk reduction and management planning processes in the country by helping LGUs efficiently plan for disasters.
Since November 2022, OMF has been supporting a series of regional training sessions designed to enhance the disaster response capabilities of LGUs with the help of the PlanSmart Ready to Rebuild app.
Capacity-building activities were provided to over 180 participants from 52 LGUs in Metro Manila, the Southern Tagalog Region, and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. These include data managers, disaster risk reduction and management officers, planning officers, and other technical staff involved in disaster rehabilitation and recovery programs.
“This training is an opportunity for all of us to learn and be able to use innovations in our communities. The PlanSmart Ready to Rebuild app is born out of science, experience, and collaboration for the benefit, not only of your organizations, but most importantly of our kababayans, our fellow Filipinos,” DOST Secretary Renato Solidum Jr. said during one of the training sessions.
Through these activities, LGUs are equipped to come up with their respective rehabilitation and recovery plans even before disasters happen using the PlanSmart Ready to Rebuild app.
“This app proves the saying ‘prevention is better than cure’. We cannot prevent natural disasters from occurring. But through this app, it is easier for us to input and generate comprehensive data and help us generate real-time output so we can prevent the bigger destructive effects of disasters,” shared Marlon Lopez, Local Disaster Risk Reduction Management Officer 1 from Pasay City.
Noting its advocacy of inclusive disaster preparedness, the World Bank hailed the development of the PlanSmart Ready to Rebuild web app as it reaffirmed its support to the Philippine government.
“The World Bank is always ready to support the Philippine Government as it advocates a culture of preparedness and resilience. We are happy to share this commitment with private sector partners, such as the One Meralco Foundation, because inclusive disaster preparedness, response, and recovery is best achieved when all stakeholders are all hands-on deck,” World Bank Senior Disaster Risk Management Specialist Lesley Y. Cordero said.
“We supported the development of this innovative platform to help government, especially the LGUs, to plan for disaster and climate risks more efficiently and rebuild resiliently,” Cordero added.
Digital tools such as the PlanSmart Ready to Rebuild app are part of the continuous efforts of the national government supported by OMF to innovate and further enhance the capacity of LGUs to respond to disasters and build resilience given the continuing impact of climate change.
“Aside from actively implementing emergency preparedness and disaster response operations, OMF believes in the need to maximize technology and build capacities of local governments to strengthen stakeholder ownership and accountability in planning for and responding to disasters,” Tarayao said.
Beyond disaster response, Meralco, through OMF, has been actively supporting underserved communities with electrification programs and through grassroot partnerships to deliver truly sustainable solutions that bring lasting change.