PlanSmart Ready to Rebuild Training for Central Visayas (Region VII)

February 21, 2023

by: Elynrae Soriano

The PlanSmart training series continued as it held its second regional roll-out on February 21-23, 2023 at the Bai Hotel, Mandaue City, Cebu. It was co-organized by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), the Department of Science and Technology - Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (DOST-PHIVOLCS), the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), the Office of Civil Defense (OCD), the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), the Department of Information and Communications Technology Region VII (DICT VII), the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR), and the World Bank. A total of 107 participants from local government units (LGUs) of Bohol, Cebu, Negros Oriental, and Siquijor & Region VII DRRM Council such as DOST, DILG, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) attended the training course designed to capacitate the technical staff and representatives in gathering and assessing baseline data and formulating Rehabilitation and Recovery Plans (RRPs) using the PlanSmart web application for efficient and science-based programming and planning to combat disasters.To help achieve this objective, 12 mentors from DOST-PHIVOLCS facilitated the PSRR training series. Having an app and a learning activity as such are significant according to the opening remarks of Mr. Jesus Zamora Jr., DOST-VII Director, represented by Engr. Tristan Abando, DOST-VII Assistant Regional Director for Technical Operations, because “being prepared before a disaster strikes is just as important as being ready to respond once it has occurred.”. Dir. Zamora also said, building disaster resilience is not only limited to having sturdy structures and engineering measures that can withstand the impact of disasters, but includes securing adequate tools as well - one of which is the PlanSmart. In addition, Mr. Segundo Bolo, OCD-VII Regional Director and Ms. Marilyn Tolosa-Martinez, World Bank’s Senior Disaster Risk Management (DRM) Specialist, also expressed support for this initiative in their welcome messages. They firmly believed that doing so would also help prevent damages similar to 2021's Typhoon Odette from being repeated. These are the reasons that urged the guest speakers to collectively encourage participants to maximize the training and the use of the PlanSmart app. In response, the workshop attendees actively participated in all orientations and hands-on exercises conducted throughout the training program. They learned numerous topics on the use of PlanSmart and GeoRiskPH platforms such as how to digitize building footprints, manage databases, generate hazards assessments and analytics, mapping of land use, and formulating post-disaster rehabilitation and recovery plan (RRP). Provided to the trainees as well are supplementary lectures that focus on the topics of evolution of Filipino homes, hazards assessment of LGU-owned administrative boundaries, financing and investment requirements, institutional arrangements, hazards assessment for planning purposes, and identifying priority programs and activities (PPAs). These discussions were presented by Dr. Renato Solidum, Jr., DOST Secretary, Ms. Vilma Cabrera, DSWD Former Undersecretary, Mr. John Aries Macaspac, Bureau of Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Director of Systems and Productivity, Ms. Margarita Songco, World Bank DRR Senior Consultant, Ms. Fides Borja, World Bank DRM Senior Consultant, Atty. Lesley Cordero, World Bank Senior DRM Specialist, Mr. Austere Panadero, Zuellig Family Foundation Executive Director, Mr. Marion Micah Tinio, Filipino Environmental Planner, and Ms. Mabelline Cahulogan, Dr. Rhommel Grutas, Mr. John Harold Tabuzo, Mr. Hanz Cesar Alejandria, Mr. Conrad Alfonso Favis, Ms. Princess Di Pascual, and Ms. Ynna Patricia Aquino, DOST-PHIVOLCS technical personnel. Towards the end of the training, a design thinking activity and group reporting were also conducted, where participants shared their drafted rehabilitation and recovery plans (RRPs) and identified strengths and opportunities for improvement in the PlanSmart app. The 3-day capacity-building event concluded successfully with closing remarks from Mr. Epimaco Densing III, Department of Education (DepEd) Undersecretary for School Infrastructure and Facilities and Mr. Leo Trovela, DILG Regional Director, represented by Ms. Marithel Oporto, DILG-VII Local Government Capability Development Division Chief. Usec. Densing III emphasized in his speech the idea that having accurate data is essential for making correct decisions, a service that PlanSmart can offer. This prompted him and DepEd to “have a PlanSmart for Safe Schools”. Lastly, Dir. Trovela congratulated all the participants and encouraged them to optimize the PlanSmart and take to heart all the lessons learned from this training. Together, all the agencies involved in this program will continually strive to collaborate with more local governments to share this automated planning tool to assist in faster and more efficient disaster rehabilitation and recovery planning in their respective localities, which consequently builds a disaster-resilient Philippines.