PlanSmart Ready to Rebuild Regional Training for CARAGA (Region XIII) & BARMM

March 28, 2023

by: Elynrae Soriano

The PlanSmart Ready to Rebuild program is on a roll as it recently completed its third regional roll-out at Almont Hotel and Inland Resort in Butuan City on March 28-30, 2023. It was initiated by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), the Department of Science and Technology - Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (DOST-PHIVOLCS), the Office of Civil Defense (OCD), the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), the World Bank, and the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) with technical support from the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) - CARAGA. This training leg was attended by 136 disaster risk reduction management officers, data managers, and policy makers from Region 13, particularly, the local government units (LGUs) of Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, and Dinagat Islands, including branch offices of DOST, DILG, OCD, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), National Irrigation Administration (NIA), and National Housing Authority (NHA) in CARAGA. They were also joined by the planning officers from BARMM LGUs and ministries such as Lanao del Sur, Maguindao del Norte, Maguindanao del Sur, Ministry of the Interior and Local Government (MILG), Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao-Rapid Emergency Action on Disaster Incidence (BARMM-READI) and Bangsamoro Planning and Development Authority (BPDA). These representatives attended with the purpose of building their capacity in using the PlanSmart web application and GeoRiskPH platforms for gathering and assessing baseline data and formulating Rehabilitation and Recovery Plans (RRPs) to better plan for and recover faster from disasters. Hon. Omar Andaya, Acting Mayor of Butuan City, Ms. Lisa Mazo, Regional Director of OCD CARAGA, Dr. Teresito Bacolcol, Director of DOST-PHIVOLCS, and Ms. Marilyn Tolosa-Martinez, Senior DRM Specialist of World Bank, graced the event with their presence as well to show support to the participants and for this initiative. In their opening remarks, they collectively emphasized the significance of enhancing the local communities’ resilience to disasters due to the fact that the Philippines is susceptible to natural catastrophes. To further illustrate, Dr. Bacolcol and Ms. Martinez recalled last year’s Tropical Storm “Paeng” that hit BARMM, Typhoon Odette that struck CARAGA Region in 2021, and a Magnitude 6.7 Earthquake in Surigao Del Norte last 2017. In order to avoid high casualties similar to the disasters mentioned and to mitigate the impact of future calamities, the guest speakers also encouraged the participants to maximize the learning activity and the use of the PlanSmart and GeoRiskPH applications. Putting the wheels in motion, the training attendees actively participated in a series of demos and hands-on exercises using the PlanSmart and GeoRiskPH apps. They digitized building footprints, managed collected data, generated hazards assessments and analytics, explored land use mapping, and encoded pre- and post-disaster data. In addition, they learned about the evolution of Filipino homes, hazards assessment of LGU-owned administrative boundaries, disaster rehabilitation and recovery framework, menu of fund source options, financing and investment requirements, institutional arrangements, hazards assessment for planning purposes, and identifying priority programs and activities (PPAs) which were all useful during their formulation of rehabilitation and recovery plans (RRPs). They had a group reporting and design thinking activity as well to present their drafted RRPs and provide feedback on PlanSmart. As per the participants, the application is user-friendly and quick to generate hazard assessments and DRR plans. They also recommended offline features, additional dropdown options, and updated maps and boundaries to maximize its full potential. All these activities were conducted with the help of 12 facilitators from DOST-PHIVOLCS and the following resource speakers: 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, Mr. Hanz Cesar M. Alejandria, former DOST-PHIVOLCS Science Research Specialist II, and Ms. Mabelline Cahulogan, Dr. Rhommel Grutas, Mr. John Harold Tabuzo, Mr. Conrad Alfonso Favis, Ms. Princess Di Pascual, and Ms. Ynna Patricia Aquino, DOST-PHIVOLCS technical personnel. The 3-day capacity-building event successfully wrapped up with closing messages from Ms. Lisa Mazo and Ms. Annabel Fortun Yangson, DILG Local Government Operations Officer VII. Ms. Mazo and Ms. Yangson expressed their gratitude to everyone who attended the workshop for their active involvement and urged them to continuously optimize the PlanSmart application after the training. Moving forward, Ms. Cahulogan, and Mr. Julius Hontiveros, OCD DRRM Fund Management Office Division In-Charge, assured everyone that PlanSmart would continue to evolve to meet the needs of its stakeholders, and training for LGUs will also be available hereafter. Lastly, they, along with the lead developers of the PlanSmart Ready to Rebuild program, hope for this automated planning tool to be utilized by more local governments to build more safe and disaster-resilient communities in the country.