Elders Urged to Help in Disaster Preparation, Management

MANILA, Philippines (Oct. 31, 2014) — Advocates are calling for greater involvement of the elderly in disaster risk preparation and management.

They see the elderly as one of the country’s most important resources in preparing for disasters, and they should not be treated as a liability.

The advocates spoke at a symposium for the International Day of Disaster Risk Reduction (IDDRR) yesterday.

The Office of Civil Defense organized the day-long event at Camp Aguinaldo to mark IDDRR and the ASEAN Day for Disaster Management.

Fransiskus Kupang, Coalition of Services of the Elderly (COSE) executive director, said people must not discount the contribution of older people during disasters.

“The elderly are often neglected and seen as burdens during disasters, but we have seen that they have an important role to play in helping communities be prepared for disasters and react when help is needed. One of their important contributions is the knowledge, experience and wisdom about disasters and coping with disasters,” he said.

The focus of this year’s symposium was on creating a more inclusive approach to disaster risk reduction to include the elderly and people with disability.

Speaking at the opening of the symposium, Sen. Loren Legarda said the elderly have a lot to contribute when disaster occurs.

“Truly, our senior citizens can still be trend setters and advocates for disaster preparedness and risk management,” she said.

Dioscoro Benalla, Confederation of Older Persons Association of the Philippine president, said older people must bee seen as a resource rather than a burden when disaster hits.

“Yes, during disasters we have special needs not like everyone else’s, but we are not helpless,” he said. “In the last disasters in the country, older persons have helped respond to disasters as quickly as the other agencies.”

Jointly hostin the event were the Office of Civil Defense, COSE, Disaster Risk Reduction Philippines, Oxfam and World Vision.

The Philippines is particularly vulnerable to natural disasters, with around 20 typhoons hitting the country every year. - PhilStar

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