June 4, 2017
Japan's foremost disaster research center International Research Institute of Disaster Science (IRIDeS) and the Municipality of Kalibo, Aklan have partnered to emphasize the importance of disaster education to enhance disaster resiliency in the Philippines.
The partnership launched the Yui ("unity" in Japanese) Project in Aklan this week to help bring disaster education and mitigation in schools and communities.
"Disasters involve entire communities. Based on survey of the post Hanshin Awaji Earthquake in 1995 in Japan, approximately 80% of people were rescued by their neighbors. This is why the MDRRMO Kalibo and I have been promoting disaster awareness using the Japanese method," said Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteer (JOCV) Tatsuya Hada who helped organize the Yui Project trainings in Kalibo this week together with the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (MDRRO) of Kalibo.
"The Yui Project hopefully will help promote disaster risk reduction (DRR) as a way of life in Kalibo, and eventually the rest of the Philippines," he added.
The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Volunteer Program sends young Japanese professionals to the Philippines as part of the JOCV to share their technical expertise and support JICA's development cooperation work. To date, 1,632 volunteers like Hada have been dispatched around the country to support Philippine development.
The training, added Hada, will be an "opportunity to learn the Japanese DRR methods from IRIDeS and further strengthen the partnership and bilateral relations of Japan and the Philippines."
Japan's Tohoku University founded IRIDes in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami disaster in Japan in 2011. The research center builds on the lessons from Japan's disaster experiences to help communities prepare, respond, and recover from disasters promptly, sensibly, and effectively.
A faculty member of IRIDes Mari Yasuda will teach students and teachers from Aklan's Department of Education (DepEd), Aklan State University, and Red Cross Aklan Youth Chapter a childhood education tool called Gensai pocket using Gensai wrapping cloth (Furoshiki) that children can use in times of disasters.
The Gensai pocket is a handkerchief showing information on DRR such as where to evacuate and what to bring during disasters.
Prior to the Yui Project, JOCV Hada shared Japanese survival technique "uitemate" (water and floating rescue) with the Kalibo MDRRO, DepEd, Office of Civil Defense (OCD), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), Philippine National Police (PNP), Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) and local communities in Aklan. An evacuation camp management game ("hinanjo unei game") using Japanese materials was also held in Kalibo.
The uitemate was a concept developed in Japan after the 2011 disaster that helped in the survival of residents from Higashimatsushita, Miyagi Prefecture. While, the hinanjo unei game was created by the Shizuoka Prefecture that Tohoku University translated into English. Following disasters in Japan, the Japanese have been training communities how to organize evacuation centers with local government.
The Province of Aklan is vulnerable to typhoons and flooding. During Typhoon Yolanda in 2013, hundreds of people were affected and injured and the focus of international support to Tacloban over other areas motivated Aklanons to institutionalize self-help and community help in DRR using past lessons and Japan's experiences and methods.