The Philippines launches major disaster preparedness exercise with USAID and WFP support

By World Food Programme

The Philippines launches major disaster preparedness exercise with USAID and WFP support

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), in collaboration with the Philippine Office of Civil Defense (OCD) and supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), kicked off the second Disaster Preparedness and Humanitarian Operations Workshop (DPHOW).

This workshop aims to strengthen collaboration among humanitarian actors and enhance the preparedness of disaster management units in the Philippines.

U.S. Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Robert Ewing, Philippine Social Welfare and Development Assistant Secretary Irene Dumlao, and OCD Administrator Ariel Nepomuceno attended the opening ceremony at the New Government Administrative Center in New Clark City, Tarlac.

“The U.S. government remains committed to supporting the Philippines to prepare for, respond to, and recover from humanitarian crises. This work is a cornerstone of our longstanding partnership. In the last 15 years alone, the United States, through USAID, has provided more than PHP 27 billion for disaster relief and preparedness in the Philippines. Additionally, the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement in place supports the development of key sites important for disaster relief and response,” said US Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Robert Ewing.

Ranked as the highest disaster risk country globally for the second year in a row by the World Risk Report 2023, the Philippines faces significant threats from hazards such as earthquakes, typhoons, and volcanic eruptions.

To address these large-scale emergencies, especially earthquakes, the DPHOW is a multi-agency simulation exercise aiming to enhance emergency readiness, deepen understanding of humanitarian operations, and share best practices in disaster preparedness and response. The event will culminate on May 30 with a full-scale simulation on responding to “The Big One,” a catastrophic 7.2 magnitude earthquake.

“Our strategic, operational, and tactical doctrines must be put to the test regularly so that we will not be sitting complacent in our offices. Our job is 24/7, and that job is no less than saving the lives of more than one hundred ten million Filipinos. Quite an intriguing job indeed that is why we need to constantly challenge our preparations,” said Civil Defense Administrator Ariel F. Nepomuceno.

“In WFP we always ask, PREP ka na ba? Are you ready? This workshop is very timely as we weather through the El Niño and the upcoming monsoon season. Preparedness is key in ensuring that communities vulnerable to climate shocks are food secure. We thank the Philippine Government and the United States for the strong partnership towards emergency preparedness and response,” said Dipayan Bhattacharyya, WFP Philippines Country Director ad interim.

With USAID’s support, WFP launched the Preparedness and Response Excellence in the Philippines (PREP) Programme in 2023 to strengthen the government’s emergency response and management capacities through digitalization, policy development, and climate-proofing operation centers. WFP recently finalized a Memorandum of Agreement with the OCD to better support the Philippine Government in withstanding shocks and stressors.