ACKNOWLEDGING that weather forecasts are “not absolute,” an executive at the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) advised disaster management agencies to focus more on “communicating uncertainty” in understanding and appreciating the science behind weather forecasts and typhoon warnings.
Speaking at a panel discussion in a seminar hosted by the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) and Japan International Cooperating Agency (Jica) at a hotel in Ortigas, Science and Technology Assistant Secretary Raymund E. Liboro underscored that laymanizing weather updates involved more than their translation into the vernacular.
“The key to communicating typhoon warnings is communicating uncertainty. And the most essential part there is the implicit understanding that forecasts are not absolute and cast in stone,” he said.
In the recent Typhoon Ruby, Liboro said the DOST-Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration presented a variety of scenarios to impress upon the public the many possible ways a typhoon can move, like it has a mind of its own. Liboro also discussed the urgency to come up with ingenious and creative approaches in dealing with emergency situations, such as rescue and recovery operations.
He recounted the experience in Japan after the great earthquake of 2011, wherein road-clearing crews were accompanied by deputized audit personnel to hasten the process of issuing fuel vouchers for their trucks and heavy equipment.
“Nowhere is it more crucial to be able to think out-of-the-box than in disaster-risk reduction and management. Lives are at stake and this ability quite literally spells the difference between life and death,” he said.
The Final Seminar on Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Capacity Enhancement Project was organized by OCD and Jica to share to stakeholders the final outputs of the three-year project, designed to boost the conduct of disaster-risk reduction and management planning and implementation along the four thematic areas of prevention and mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery/reconstruction.