Our Perspectives

Inside UNDP: Fides Borja

 Fides Borja with her colleagues and volunteers during Typhoon Ruby Response Operations at the Office of Civil Defense Operations Center.

1. Who are you?

I’m Fides Barbara B. Borja, from UNDP in the Philippines.   Growing up, my parents taught us the value of hard work.  I have always dreamt of working in an international organization such as the UNDP, contributing and making a difference.

2. What do you do for work?

I provide technical assistance to the Civil Defense Administrator in his role as the Executive Director of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).  I assist the Philippine government in preparing for high-level international and regional conferences, including the 3rd UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation 2015. 

I also provide technical assistance for the review of the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010 and Framework and Plan.  It is an exciting and challenging task because it includes inter-agency coordination as well as policy review of existing issuances and regulations.  I get to experience how the DRRM theories and principles are applied on the ground.     

3. How long have you worked for UNDP? How did you end up working for UNDP?  Where were you before?

I have been working for UNDP since May 2014.  After Typhoon Yolanda struck the Philippines, I was deployed by UNDP to provide technical assistance to the Philippine government in crafting the Typhoon Yolanda Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Recovery Plan (CRRP).  The CRRP contains 18,648 programs, projects and activities for the 171 affected cities and municipalities.

I was a public servant for seven years, working in both the Executive and Legislative branches of government.  I was involved in the crafting of the Typhoon Pablo Rehabilitation and Recovery Plan and the Performance and Projects Roadmap. I initiated the formulation of the Monitoring and Evaluation Tool that tracks the completion of programs and projects under that Roadmap.

4. Give us 2-3 short example of the types of assignments you do most frequently.

I help prepare speeches and presentation materials for the Civil Defense Administrator’s major speaking engagements.  Currently, I am working on Typhoon Ruby documentation that will highlight the lessons learned and best practices of the Philippine government.

5. Give us three short data-driven results that these actions contributed to.

Give us three short data-driven results that these acti When Typhoon Ruby hit, I worked a 12-hour shift at the NDRRMC Operations Center together with the Council’s Response Cluster.  The Response Cluster, composed of representatives from lead and member agencies, is responsible for all the response efforts of the government before, during and immediately after a disaster. 

Typhoon Ruby affected 4 million people across 9 regions and pre-emptive evacuation was conducted for a total of 716,639 individuals.

I assisted the Office of Civil Defense in setting up and managing Typhoon Ruby-related information on social media and other platforms, including the Response Cluster emergency hotlines used primarily to provide and track information on the situation and needs of affected population.  These information exchanges, along with an enhanced cooperation between the government and the people, resulted in saving thousands of lives and substantially reducing the number of casualties and damages in the aftermath of the typhoon.

6. Top 3 favorite things about working for UNDP?

  • Direct interaction with the beneficiaries, government agencies, stakeholders and other international organizations.
  • The thrill, challenge and adrenaline rush of being in the middle of the action.
  • Being able to make a positive contribution in the institution and for the people.

7. What are the challenges of working and living in your duty station?

One challenge is being a woman working in a male-dominated environment in a disaster prone country like the Philippines.

8. One favorite thing you love or have discovered in your duty station?

Everyday is exciting, as I am given tasks that vary from crafting speeches and reviewing existing policies to coordinating with various government agencies and stakeholders.

9. From the time you’ve been in UNDP, name your favorite UNDP result.

I am privileged to have been part of the UNDP team that provided assistance to the government in handling the Typhoon Ruby, which resulted in saving lives and substantially reducing casualties and damage.

10. Three things on your work wish list, which would empower you to deliver more effective results for work?

  • Trainings, workshops or field visits abroad to learn best practices in DRRM and apply it in the Philippines.
  • Cross posting in other countries to get exposure and test and share what I have learned here, and vice versa.
  • To pursue additional courses on International Disaster Management and Public Policy.

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