In preparation for emergencies, the Visayas Disaster Response Centre (DRC) was inaugurated today in Mandaue City in Cebu Province by the Philippine government, through the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD, and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).
The Visayas disaster response centre is a continuation of the strategic partnership between DSWD and WFP to enhance emergency response capacity in the Philippines. It is funded by the governments of Australia and the United Kingdom.
Inside the 5,000-square meter centre is a custom-built mechanized system designed to rapidly produce 50,000 family food packs in a day, which is enough to feed 250,000 people for three days. Combined with the mechanized production system at the National Resource Operations Centre in Pasay City, this will double family food pack production capacity to feed 500,000 people for three days.
The Visayas centre features a pallet racking system for improved storage of food packs and warehousing of food and non-food commodities, guaranteeing quality stockpiles of family food packs and other humanitarian assistance ready for distribution. Spaces for training sessions and offices for the DSWD and the WFP, as well as other government officials, are also available.
The DRC was conceived as a result of the lessons learned from the response to Super Typhoon Haiyan, locally known as Typhoon Yolanda. ‘Yolanda’ badly hit the Visayas region and challenged the government in responding to large-scale humanitarian relief requirements.
“Typhoon Haiyan showed that disasters can strike anywhere in the Philippines,” said Praveen Agrawal, WFP Philippines’ Representative and Country Director. “The inauguration of the Visayas disaster response centre is a significant step towards decentralizing the Philippine government’s emergency response. With help from our donors, WFP will continue to support the Philippines by establishing respective DRCs in Luzon and Mindanao.”
WFP will also build a similar centre in Clark, to cater to the Luzon regions and another one in General Santos City, for Mindanao.
“These DRCs bring the humanitarian response of government closest to the people needing support. As in the case of El Nino, these DRCs can make food packages more accessible to disaster-affected areas in all parts of the country,” DSWD Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman said.
These centres are all accessible by land, sea and air to ensure the immediate response of the government wherever a disaster strikes in the country. WFP is also providing technical training to key government representatives on disaster response logistics and supply chain management.
The Philippines is considered as one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world exacerbated by climate change, with various natural disasters affecting the country such as typhoons, droughts, earthquakes, and volcanic activities.