25 Mar 2024

The Philippines files its Declaration of a State of Imminent Disaster

The Philippines recently filed its bill for the Declaration of a State of Imminent Disaster, which will institutionalize and operationalize anticipatory action within the government sector. Set to become the first national legislation for anticipatory action worldwide, it will allow for national and local resources to be used to act before a hazard strikes.

Under the bill, the national government and local government units will be able to declare a state of imminent disaster based on recommendations from disaster risk reduction and disaster risk management offices. This declaration can also be made if damage to critical infrastructure and facilities is expected, or there are predicted disruptions to people’s everyday needs, such as food supply, electricity or water. Once this declaration is made, funds will be released. “With the early deployment of funds, we can lessen the response time and ensure that the measures we execute – from early action to early response – respond to the most immediate needs of communities,” Arvin Caro, Start Network’s country crisis financing advisor, told Philstar.com.

“This is a step in the right direction, as the country faces intensified risks due to the climate crisis. It is high time that we prioritize proactive measures over reactive steps – not only to safeguard the well-being of Filipinos, but to enhance the country’s overall resilience by ensuring that our disaster management plans are executed according to community needs, and not just the available budget.”

Arvin Caro Country crisis financing advisor, Start Network

The National Anticipatory Action Technical Working Group – a group of government institutions and humanitarian organizations – has been intensifying efforts to institutionalize the anticipatory action approach in the Philippines since 2015. For example:

  • the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has been piloting the approach in collaboration with national and local governments
  • the World Food Programme and its partners have strengthened systems in the country, including through the government's multi-partner project, ‘Multi-Hazard Impact-Based Forecasting and Early Warning System for the Philippines’
  • in July 2023, ahead of the onset of Typhoon Egay (Doksuri), Start Network piloted Start Ready, a risk-based financing programme that uses advanced modelling and science-based trigger systems to provide pre-hazard funds to at-risk communities.

“For Filipinos, this bill is not just a policy; it's a lifeline that offers the promise of a safer and more secure future in the face of uncertainty,” confirms Arvin Caro.

The Technical Working Group comprises the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Start Network, the World Food Programme, the Philippine Red Cross, the German Red Cross, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the UN Children’s Fund, the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the Department of Science and Technology, the Office of Civil Defense, the Department of the Interior and Local Government, the Department of Budget and Management, and other government and humanitarian agencies.

Photo: Rep. Jose Manuel Alba and members of the National Anticipatory Action Technical Working Group (Start Network, FAO, WFP, OCD) at the filing of the Declaration of a State of Imminent Disaster. © Arvin Caro