Gawad Kalasag titleholder moves Albay into merging nutrition with DRRM

November 10, 2014 9:03 am 

By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 8 (PNA) — The village chieftain, who steered his barangay here to victory in last year’s Gawad Kalasag national championship, has moved all villages in Albay province into merging nutrition with the works of Barangay Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Committees (BDRRMCs).

Chairman Joseph Philip Lee of Barangay Oro Site initiated the move by way of a recent resolution he authored in the provincial legislative board, or the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP), requiring all the 720 barangay chairmen in the province to organize the nutrition cluster as a sub-structure of their respective BDRRMCs.

Lee is an ex-oficio board member, being president of the provincial chapter of the League of Barangays.

The resolution is aimed at ensuring that nutritional status of affected population is not worsened by the impacts of emergencies and disasters. It was unanimously passed by the SP and readily approved by Gov. Joey Salceda for immediate implementation.

It is also in compliance with a National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) circular “institutionalizing the cluster approach in the disaster management system” as well as with the National Nutrition Council (NNC) governing board resolution which provides that the nutrition committee of each local government unit should function as the local nutrition cluster.

Malnutrition as well as the underlying health status of the population, Lee said, is always a major concern during calamity situations wherein issues on the availability of food, safe water and sanitation facilities usually arise.

According to the NNC, nutrition problems confronted evacuation camps where about 55,000 Albayanos were made to stay since last Sept. 16 amid the warning of a Mayon volcano eruption issued by Albay authorities based on advisories of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs).

In the nutrition assessment, the NCC regional office for Bicol said 241, representing 7.31 percent of the total number of evacuees, were found suffering from Moderate Acute Malnourished (MAM) while 84 or 2.54 percent were in Severe Acute Malnourished (SAM).

“Reaching the critical level of five percent, the situation requires immediate nutrition interventions amid facts, saying that high prevalence of underweight in the province of Albay is a pre-existing condition and continues to be a serious concern,” the NNC said.

The situation moved NNC into placing into action a Community-Based Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) approach which enables the community volunteers to identify and initiate treatment for children with acute malnutrition before they become seriously ill.

Under such approach, severely malnourished children in evacuation camps who have medical complications or lack an appetite are referred to in-patient facilities for more intensive treatment under this approach.

MAM programs also work to integrate treatment with a variety of other longer-term interventions designed to reduce the incidence of malnutrition and improve public health and food security in a sustainable manner.

Using the CMAM method, malnourished children receive treatment suited to their nutritional and medical needs with most malnourished children can be rehabilitated at home with only a small number needing to travel for in-patient care.

“Cognizant of the importance of ensuring not only the safety but also the health and welfare of the Albayanos, especially in times of emergencies and disasters, there is a need to further strengthen the capability of the local disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) councils by requiring all barangays to organize the barangay nutrition clusters as sub-structure of the respective BDRRMCs,” Lee said in the resolution.

This is required because strengthening DRRM capacities is part of building more effective and efficient DRRM systems since emergencies and disasters may occur anytime, he said, adding that it is also a teaching of the Gawad Kalasag, a nationwide award given yearly by the NDRRMC in recognition of excellence in disaster risk reduction and management and humanitarian assistance.

“Kalasag” stands for Kalamidad at Sakuna, Labanan, Sariling Galing ang Kaligtasan.

In the 2013 search for the awards, Barangay Oro Site won the national championship in the Urban Barangay Category to bring home the honors for the outstanding contributions of its BDRRMC in strengthening the resilience and adaptive capacities of the country and communities to disaster risks.

Launched in 1998, Gawad Kalasag is the NDRRMC’s recognition mechanism in obtaining sustained commitment and support by recognizing exceptional contributions of disaster risk reduction practitioners in strengthening the resilience and adaptive capacities of the country and communities to disaster risks.

The recognition also aims to promote the spirit of volunteerism among agencies and individuals in providing the urgent need for help in responding to disasters.

Apart from the honors, top winners are given cash prizes amounting Php100,000 each, which should be spent for DRRM-related activities of respective local DRRMCs.

In this year’s competition, Barangay Oro Site was once again chosen in the Bicol regional level competition to represent the region in the national search along with this city, which will compete under the Component City Category– the same category that gave its DRRMC the national championship crown last year.

“For the second time, we are confident of winning this contest because that victory last year inspired us a lot into strengthening further our DRRM capabilities. We used the Php100,000 cash prize in equipping our communities with more disaster preparedness implements and awareness,” Lee said. (PNA)

RMA/FGS/DOC/CBD/RSM

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