Philippines- a majestic country, a collection of islands and beautiful people. Behind the scenery, however, it is considered as one of the highly vulnerable nations to climate change impacts.
It was November 8, 2013 when Super Typhoon Haiyan (locally known as Bagyong Yolanda), paved its way across the Visayan region and proved this fact.
With a strength of Category 5, it was considered as the largest tropical storm to ever make landfall. Tyhoon Haiyan devastated 90% of the homes along its course. Death tolls almost reached 10,000. About 1.9M people were left homeless.
Among the hit provinces, Tacloban, Leyte had the worst case scenario.
NGO’s, the government and private sectors hold hands to distress a united act against the threat. After experiencing Climate Change at first-hand, sectors initiate and invest more on CC initiatives. Andrea Xayide Gaurana does her share and personally strive for literal greener pastures.
Small steps, Big changes
Andrea is a young and empowered woman who actively pushes for Renewable Energy on her new-found community in Tacloban, Leyte.
When asked about her humble beginnings, she said, “I began as a student volunteer for Solar Generation Negros, a youth based organization that promotes renewable energy and energy efficiency as a solution to climate change.” It was only February, 2007, then.
She currently works as the project manager of RE-charge Tacloban under Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities.
RE-charge Tacloban has three components:
- sustainable transport through electric jeepneys and Haiyan-damaged converted e-multicabs
- use of renewable energy as a solution to climate change especially in climate change vulnerable areas in Eastern Visayas
- a center of training and innovation on RE and disaster risk reduction integration
Her outputs are not only designed to mitigate but to adapt as well. They have made huge differences through recycling and innovation.
After Typhoon Haiyan, Tacloban had limited venues for electric power production. This gave way to solar and wind power plants. Not only because they are RE and cool, but because they were the best coping options for long-term productions.
The government seem to put climate change vulnerability at the very least of their priorities.
Andrea believes that the government should invest more on financing climate change proposals thru the People’s Survival Fund.
One of her remarkable contributions is RE-charge TekPak where a team innovates an RE module that will be used as a DRR tool. Later on, they sustain training people from different walks of life on how to use this RE module.
Personally, I think that with the recent inauguration of coal fired power plants, the government is simply not practicing what they preach.
~on Philippine’s actions after COP21 agreements
A Paradise Reborn
Philippines surely learned the hard way.
After almost 3 years of subtle reflections and huge recoveries, Tacloban is once again a rising paradise. The tragedy has given it the attention needed to develop its existing treasures. It is a “rebirth from Earth” and Andrea made herself an instrument of this change.
She continues to inspire and motivate people through the iCSC Solar Scholars training program where she teaches the very basics of RE and electricity, with topics ranging from atoms to basic KWH calculations, and DRR.
“We also have installed community and household solar systems in remote islands and communities across the Visayas that are still not connected to the grid. We also continue to respond during disasters such as Ruby and Nona by providing mobile power and solar charging stations for emergency power needs in typhoon hit areas,” Andrea said regarding her present programs.
Resilience is the goal
Knowledge and equipment are two essentials for a community to be able to safely make it through a hazard. RE-Charge project aims to empower people, from energetic high school students to pretty slow-paced grandmothers. They, too, can help others the same way respondents came for them during Haiyan.
Although Andrea’s advocacy is inclined to RE, her empowerment through education holds true to all aspects of DRR including vulnerabality assessment, contingency planning, humanitarian response, etc.
She said that if the community is that equipped, then they could be resilient.
Andrea spends her spare time as a travel blogger, outdoor enthusiast and an environmental advocate. This way, she gets to experience the beautiful environment she works so hard to protect.
In a society that generally values fame more than substance, role models on Climate Adaptation like Andrea are to be deeply appreciated.
People need to go back to their roots. They have to go back to the open field and see the reality in their own eyes. It’s the only way to absorb and realize the fact that we are entirely dependent on its existence. It’s the only way to absorb and realize the fact that the only way we can survive is by adapting on this changing climate, on this changing world.
Anyone can make a difference. We just have to start within ourselves and let the fire radiate on its own.