March 4, 2024

Department of Social Welfare and Development Secretary Rex Gatchalian highlighted the importance of collaboration between the government and civil society in mitigating the impacts of disasters and calamities.

In his keynote address at the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation’s (PDRF) Cluster Connect Conference in Makati City, Gatchalian emphasized governance as a collaborative endeavor, and that the government needs partners from the private sector in disaster preparedness and operations.

“We cannot do it alone. We need to ensure, not only a whole-of-nation approach, but a whole-of-society approach to address the needs of Filipinos affected by disasters,” he said.

As the vice chair for Disaster Response and Early Recovery Pillar of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, Gatchalian said the DSWD continues to strengthen its disaster response and early recovery efforts “to prevent the loss of lives and assure the sufficiency of social protection interventions for families affected by disasters and calamities.”

He said the DSWD has embarked on a new disaster preparedness program called the “Buong Bansa Handa,” which ensures the seamless provision of basic necessities during disasters and calamities caused by climate change and human-induced hazards.

“It aims to establish two parallel supply chains. The first one will feature an expanded network of national and local government warehousing infrastructure, which is already operating as we speak. For the second supply chain, we hope to tap the private sector to collaborate with us in ensuring food security for disaster victims,” the DSWD chief said.

The new disaster response initiative is one of the priority programs of Gatchalian that aims to engage the government at all levels, and the private sector in mobilizing resources to address food security and social protection during disasters and crises.

Gatchalian thanked the PDRF for the valuable knowledge, skills and new strategies that the private sector has shared with the DSWD “to better serve communities and reduce and manage the impacts of disasters.”

He also committed to continue the DSWD’s partnership with the foundation, assuring that the Department “will remain supportive to the PDRF toward building stronger and more resilient communities that will help uplift the lives of the Filipino people.”

The Cluster Connect Conference is an annual gathering and a platform where the PDRF convenes leaders, practitioners, and experts from the private sector, in collaboration with government and humanitarian organizations to explore pioneering solutions and strategies on how the private sector can amplify a nationally-led disaster response. – PNA