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MANILA, Philippines – As the Philippines buckles down to prepare for major disasters, national government agencies and their partners are encouraging Filipinos to look at whether their homes and key buildings are ready as well.

Local government units (LGU) will play a major role in this endeavor. Planning officers and engineers should be able to identify vulnerable structures and environmental hazards that could threaten local infrastructure’s integrity before an earthquake strikes.

Preparing them for the task are trainings on conducting infrastructure audits organized by the Local Government Academy (LGA) and the World Food Program, together with partner agencies and organizations.

The training, held from July 17 to July 21, 2017, includes 24 teams from the following areas:

  • Iloilo
  • Davao Oriental
  • Misamis Oriental
  • Maguindanao
  • Eastern Samar
  • Northern Samar
  • Leyte
  • Southern Leyte
  • Ormoc City

Speakers from the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, Office of Project Development Services of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Public Works and Highways, and Association of Structural Engineers of the Philippines showed the relationship between structural integrity and disaster risk reduction and management.

Through the presentations, participants learned how to inspect bridges as well as concrete, steel, and masonry structures, particularly critical facilities for public welfare like hospitals and local government centers.

A session on post-earthquake assessments will demonstrate how to differentiate between buildings that can be fully occupied from those that can only be partially occupied and how to prevent access to unsafe structures.

Field exercises allow them to practice the lessons in real world scenarios. The participants will visit pilot sites to assess a vertical structure, local road, and local bridge. After this, they will present the findings of their study during a plenary session.

The previous training, organized for representatives from the interagency working group and local planning officials and engineers from Cagayan, Batangas, Laguna, Sorsogon and Benguet, was conducted from June 27 to June 29, 2017.

LGUs are expected to conduct infrastructure audits throughout July 2017 and present the findings in August 2017.

Building resilience

The ongoing audit is part of the DILG’s thrust to develop disaster resilient local governments.

Part of this is making sure buildings, especially key infrastructure, are capable of withstanding hazards, including earthquakes and landslides.

To this end, the department has previously issued the following policies:

  • MC 2011-27: Mandatory Inspection of Local Governments Infrastructure and Public Buildings
  • Memorandum (dated March 6, 2017): Enjoining All LGUs to Conduct the Infrastructure Audit and Propose Solutions Thereto
  • Memorandum (dated April 8, 2017): Infrastructure Audit of Government-Owned Local Assets

With the preparatory trainings, the LGA hopes to increase the capacities of LGUs to comply with existing laws and policies, and in the long run, prevent threats from paralyzing communities.

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