The Philippines has ranked fourth in the list of countries most affected by disasters in the past 20 years, according to a United Nations report released this week.
The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction released the report titled “Human Cost of Disasters” on Oct. 13, International Disaster Risk Reduction Day.
It also indicated that about 149 million Filipinos were affected by natural disasters during the past two decades, representing an average of 7,796 per 100,000 population.
The report noted that most of the disasters that hit the country were hydrological and meteorological events, such as floods, landslides, and storms.
The most devastating event that was recorded was Super Typhoon Haiyan, which hit the country in 2013 and killed at least 6,000 people.
It also noted the significant increase in the number of disasters that occurred in the past two decades, resulting in heavy human and economic toll worldwide.
Father Antonio Labiao, executive secretary of Caritas Philippines, called on the Philippine government to “provide better coordination mechanisms to empower local communities as first responders” during natural and human-induced disasters.
The priest stressed that “putting the people at the center” of the country’s response to disaster “will strengthen disaster risk reduction and impact mitigation measures.”
He also called for collaboration and close coordination among government agencies and national and local humanitarian actors, including faith-based organizations.
Father Labiao said churches and faith-based humanitarian groups can help the government in its disaster risk reduction program.
Caritas Philippines is considered the largest non-government humanitarian and development agency in the country with more than 80 social action centers in its network.
The priest said the Catholic Church “has the manpower, structure, influence, and integrity to mobilize communities without much cost.
Father Labiao said the Church also has the expertise in disaster response and local knowledge that proved vital in recent emergencies.