More than 600 cities and municipalities all over the country that are situated in 18 major river basins have been identified as recipients of a training program on the establishment of a Geographic Information System (GIS).

Negros Oriental is fortunate to be the first province to benefit from the training on GIS for disaster preparedness and response and vulnerability reduction held this week in Dumaguete under the auspices of the World Food Program of the United Nations Children Fund in partnership with the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).

These LGUs include the cities of Bais, Bayawan, Tanjay and the municipalities of Bindoy, Mabinay, Ayungon,Tayasan and Jimalalud.

Juanito Berja Jr, GIS specialist from the World Food Program explained the computerized mapping program will enable concerned LGUs to plot which areas in their respective places are prone to disasters, such as land slides, floodings, and to determine other risk areas.

The computerized mapping also includes the collection of information about disasters as well as history of events so the community and the LGUs can prepare and focus programs on preventions, drills and exercises in those areas, contrary to the shot gun approach which is very costly and at the same time a waste of time and resources.

Meanwhile, the provincial government is also conducting a one-week integrated planning course on the Incident Command System (ICS), a management tool to be used during calamities.

Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (PDRRMC) executive officer Adrian Sedillo explained the training puts more emphasis on ensuring the safety of responders, the people and the victims as well as maximize the use of resources.

He said the provincial government headed by Gov. Roel Degamo would not want to be caught flat-footed during emergencies so that when calamity comes many are knowledgeable to manage the situation and avoid being so disorganized that would result to further damage to properties and loss of lives.

He said the one-week training, the first to be funded by any local government unit, hopes to come up with an organizational structure where everybody involved knows his role, functions and responsibilities.