Awareness of Vulnerability of Communities on Natural Disaster & Psychosocial Services of the Local Government Units in the Province of Albay, Philippines
Sipronio B. Belardo
Keywords:Disaster Risk Management, Mental Health, Calamities, Typhoon Reming (Typhoon Durian), Mayon Volcano, Positive Psychology Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
This study investigated the awareness of respondents on the vulnerability of the communities on natural disasters in the province of Albay, the experiences of the community, means of public information, professional experts, and psychosocial services offered by different Local Government Units (LGUs). The study used nonprobability sampling to identify the person in authority in the provincial level. Data from the initial interview were used to pinpoint the participants from the Municipal Social Welfare and Development (MSWD) office, Rural Health Unit (RHU), and Office of the Mayor of the different LGUs for the Focus Group Discussion (FGD). Out of the FGD, communities and families were identified for validation of outcomes. Recall interview was utilized to gather information rooted from phenomenological experience on natural disasters, specifically Typhoon Reming (Typhoon Durian) and Mayon Volcano eruptions. Respondents came from the most affected communities in Ligao, Legazpi, Tabaco, Daraga, Camalig, Guinobatan, Polangui, and Sto. Domingo. The study revealed that some of those affected by the disaster experienced signs of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Data showed the need for more experts in post-disaster recovery and mental health to make intervention activities, like psychological first aid and debriefing. The study concluded that communities surrounding Mayon Volcano and areas located in the east coast of the province are highly vulnerable to natural disasters, specifically eruption, and storm surge. There is also a shortage of professionals in the LGUs who are engaged in psychosocial concerns. Opening permanent positions in the LGUs, retraining and upgrading of practicing professionals, strong linkages with academic institutions; other government agencies—such as the Department of Health (DOH), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and Department of Education (DepEd)—and NGOs; and opening and promoting degree programs nursing, psychology, social work, human services, and guidance and counselling are recommended to supplement the need for professional experts.