Harvard picks Albay Program

LEGAZPI CITY—Harvard University in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, through its Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, has chosen Albay’s award- winning disaster risk reduction program as a case study.

HHI is a university-wide academic and research center in humanitarian crisis and leadership. A team from the institute recently visited the Albay Provincial Safety and Emergency Management Office (Apsemo) for consultation and coordination. The HHI team included its executive director Vincenzo Bolletino, Director for Finance and Administration Susan Tannehill, and Disaster NET consultant Tilly Alcayna.

Bolentino explained that HHI’s mission is to conduct research and education on practices in relieving human suffering in times of war and disaster to advance the science and practice of humanitarian response worldwide. It is based at the Department of Global Health and Population at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

In a meeting with Apsemo head Dr. Cedric Daep, Bolentino said HHI has chosen Albay as a project development case study for its comprehensive humanitariandisaster risk reduction program.

Albay’s pioneering DRR management program, initiated by Gov. Joey Salceda in 2007, had become popular for its innovations, among them the now widely accepted “Zero Casualty Goal” in handling disasters.

Only recently, the province received the 2015 Galing Pook Award for the third time in a row, with its humanitarian group Team Albay as its entry. The win assures Albay a niche in the coveted award’s     Hall of Fame. The Galing Pook Award, conferred on local government units by the Department of Interior and Local Government and the Galing Pook Foundation, is regarded as the most prestigious recognition for LGU’s best practices in good governance.

Organized by Salceda in 2007 primarily as a home front emergency response team, Team Albay/OCDV (Office of Civil Defense V) had since then undertaken at least 13 humanitarian missions in various disaster-hit areas around the country. Records show it had served some 103,642 families or 518,208 persons and produced and distributed 4,863,612 liters of clean potable water, using its water filtration machines.

Team Albay had taken over the operations of two hospitals in at least two of these missions, to restore order and health conditions of victims. It had also packed and distributed volumes of relief goods for the Department of Social Welfare and Development and from donors.

Salceda said Team Albay, a composite group whose members include elements from various provincial and national government agencies in the province, represents four essentials of the province’s DRR program: “giving back, equality, unity, and constant kindness.”

Albay had also earlier earned a Hall of Fame seat in DILG ‘s Gawad Kalasag Awards after three consecutive wins from 2009 to 2011 as Best Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, proving its leadership in DRR-CCA.

The United Nations has likewise chosen Albay as its Global Model in DRR and CCA and Salceda himself was given the title of UN Senior Global Champion in DRR-CCA. He served for a year as elected chair of the UN Green Climate Fund Board where he represents Southeast Asia and the developing countries.

Among the many citations given Salceda was the Bayaning Likas Award (BaKas) Parangal ng Kabayanihan 2012 from National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

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