March 10, 2020
The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is sharing its expertise in coastal management with the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in a move to help boost the Philippines' disaster resiliency.
The Philippines is one of the high risk countries in terms of natural disasters, according to World Risk Index 2019, and JICA seeks to share Japan's experience in addressing coastal disaster management with DPWH as the Philippines gears up to invest in infrastructure building to grow the economy.
JICA expert NAKUI Takafumi and Dr. UDA Takaaki, Head of Shore Protection Research of Japan's Public Works Research Center met recently with DPWH officials and engineers to present Japan's organizational system and laws on coastal disaster management, as well as lessons on their coastal development. Uda also underscored the role of coastal engineering to protect coastal environments from further degradation due to rapid development and global warming.
DPWH Secretary Mark Villar welcomed JICA's assistance to DPWH, saying "We recognize coastal disasters as comprehensive problems involving various interests and natural phenomena. DPWH must therefore meet the needs of our society parallel to reducing disaster risks."
Dr. Uda reported initial findings from an observation visit in Iloilo City in Panay Island and nearby Guimaras Strait citing the need to preserve mangrove forests as protection from huge waves in addition to physical structures along the breakwater that may prove effective. Coastal laws that defined coastal managers and areas of responsibilities to help manage rivers and coastal areas were also discussed while also highlighting the role of communication and cooperation among stakeholders to help manage coasts efficiently.
"Efforts to promote resiliency in infrastructure is our responsibility to the future generation. It is necessary to strengthen not only technologies but also organizational systems and laws. If we make a mistake in the framework, the results could be fragile," said JICA Senior Representative OHSHIMA Ayumu.
Since 2017, JICA has spearheaded seminars for engineers in Pacific countries to enhance coastal engineering capability. In the Philippines, JICA has supported DPWH engineers through seminars and trainings in coastal disaster management.
In the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda in 2013, JICA worked closely with DPWH and other government agencies to introduce the "build back better" concept in rebuilding infrastructure in coastal communities and restoring economic activities in disaster areas.