Church works to strengthen emergency response capacity

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MANILA, June 9, 2016— Caritas Philippines is strengthening its preparedness and response to natural disasters, with an emphasis on capacity-building in response to the threats of climate change.

Fr. Edwin Gariguez, Caritas executive secretary, said at least 10 disaster-prone dioceses in the country will be part of the PEACH (European-Asian Partnership for Building Capacities in Humanitarian Action) program.

The EU-funded program was launched this week during the Caritas Asia Regional Conference in Bangkok, Thailand with Caritas Internationalis President Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle as one of the speakers.

The PEACH program has actually started in April this year and will be implemented until March 2018.

Gariguez said is it also “very timely” as the country remains at the doorstep of climate change-induced disasters.

“Through this program, we hope to strengthen our people’s skills and competencies so we won’t be caught by surprise when disaster strikes,” he said.

Based on the 2014 World Risk Report, the Philippines ranked second with the greatest risk to disaster worldwide in terms of climate change vulnerability.

Aside from the Philippines, the program will also be implemented in Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Czechoslovakia and Romania, with Caritas Austria managing the entire program.

Among the expected results by the end of the two-year program are: strengthened disaster risk management, preparedness and response linking relief, rehabilitation and development, and volunteer management according to the European Union Aid Volunteers standards.

Caritas Philippines, also known as the National Secretariat for Social Action, is the social advocacy and development arm of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.

The agency is currently on the third year of implementing the Church’s largest rehabilitation program for Typhoon Yolanda survivors called “#REACHPhilippines” in nine provinces worst-hit by the storm.

Caritas also implements a climate change adaptation program in at least eight provinces by helping farmers and fishermen adapt to changing environmental conditions for food security and environmental preservation. (CBCPNews)

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