Official Publication of the Philippine Information Agency Bicol Regional Office, in cooperation with the RIAC-REDIRAS - RDC Bicol

Friday, September 23, 2016

Project NOAH chief cites vital role of hazard mapping in averting disasters

By Sally A. Altea

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 22 (PIA) – Technology and education can be used to avert disasters, said multi-awarded Filipino scientist and Department of Science and Technology (DOST) official during his visit here this week.

Mahar Lagmay, geologist and executive director of Project NOAH or the Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards under the DOST, is the resource speaker for the first day of the Quality Assurance and Finalization of Learning Materials on Climate Change Adaptation (CCC) and Disaster Risk and Vulnerability Reduction (DRVR).

DOST-Project NOAH Executive Director Mahar Lagmay talks about the integration of Project NOAH and probabilistic hazard mapping in the K to 12 education curriculum through CCA  and DRVR learning materials during the first day of the Quality Assurance and Finalization of Learning Materials.

The event is hosted by the Local Climate Change and Adaptation for Development (LCCAD) in partnership with the Climate Change Commission (CCC) and Department of Education (DepEd) in this city on September 19 -21, 2016.

 LCCAD executive director Manuel Rangasa said the crafting and mainstreaming of CCA-DRVR learning materials in K to 12 Philippine education curriculums is one of the targets of the current administration.

In the press conference held after his discussion, Lagmay cited the important aspects of effective disaster prevention and mitigation noting the responsibility of the government in giving warning, the response of the people, and the use of appropriate hazard maps.

"It is the responsibility of the government to deliver accurate, readily accessible, understandable and timely warnings. However, no amount of warning will work or will be effective if hazard maps are inappropriate,” he said.

Hazard mapping and risk assessment

 Lagmay presented the deterministic and probabilisitic types of hazard maps used by the government in depicting hazard scenarios and executing DRR plans. Deterministic type is based mainly on history and the people’s experience which might make it inaccurate in predicting disasters. Probabilistic type on the other hand relies mainly on scientific evidence in assessing risk by simulating future multiple scenarios of disasters such as flood, storm surges and landslides.

 “While historical losses can explain the past, they do not necessarily provide a good guide to the future; most disasters that could happen have not happened yet. Probabilistic risk assessment simulates those future disasters which, based on scientific evidence, are likely to occur. As a result these risk assessments resolve the problem posed by the limits of historical data,” he explained.

Lagmay cited the thousands of lives killed and ruined due to use of inaccurate maps such as during the onslaught of typhoon Pablo in Compostella Valley in 2012 and supertyhoon Yolanda where evacuation centers were constructed in disaster prone areas killing people right at the evacuation centers where they supposedly seek refuge.

Super typhoon Yolanda destruction in Tacloban City (Photo from inquirer.net)

“In Compostella Valley, 566 people heeded warnings by seeking refuge in an evacuation center but it became their grave when debris flow overwhelmed the site,” he said.

“Another example is the Yolanda disaster where 70% of evacuation centers in Tacloban were inundated by storm surges, which only tells us that the storm surge hazard maps were erroneous if they were used in the city’s disaster mitigation plan,” Lagmay furthered.

 Lagmay said deterministic type was used in those times.

Moreover, it was in 2012 when the government invested on hazard maps using frontier science and advanced technology to map out the Philippine landscape at very high resolution.

With this map, he noted, safe and hazard prone areas can be accurately identified to build a well-planned and resilient community against disasters.

Hazard maps available for public use

 Lagmay said DOST-Project NOAH has completed the detailed hazard maps for landslides and storm surges. Flood hazard maps, however, are still incomplete because they are more difficult to generate.

 “All maps are available in the DOST-Project NOAH website at http://noah.dost.gov.ph and in an award-winning mobile app called Arko. The NOAH maps are distributed to empower local government units (LGUs) and individuals,” he said.

Hazard map for the province of Albay has been completed.

Lagmay noted that by knowing the hazards in their neighborhood, people are made aware of the dangers in their community – the first step in effective disaster preparedness and mitigation.

Moreover this entails long term education and rooting of culture of safety and preparedness in communities along with the standardization of national CCA-DRR program.(MAL/SAA-PIA5/Albay)

- See more at: http://news.pia.gov.ph/article/view/3211474599087/project-noah-chief-cites-vital-role-of-hazard-mapping-in-averting-disasters#sthash.mfF2p3P9.dpuf

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