PHILIPPINE government agencies, the private sector and a United Nations office gathered recently to tackle issues on disaster-risk reduction.
The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) joined SM Prime Holdings Inc. and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) for the Top Leaders Forum 2015 in Pasay City recently.
The forum was a yearly event that gathers top-level leaders from both the public and private sectors to discuss issues on disaster-risk reduction in order to implement tangible projects and initiatives that will result in reducing industry losses brought about by natural hazards.
At the forum, the UNISDR Private Sector Alliance for Disaster Resilient Societies in the Philippines was launched as a vehicle to provide opportunity for private organizations and the business sector to become members in addressing the problems brought about by the changing weather patterns. Science Secretary Mario G. Montejo presented the different programs of the DOST in generating risk information and risk assessment in line with the agreements reached during the formulation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction in March.
“As our country is committed to the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the DOST has implemented a number of disaster-risk reduction programs like the Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards, or Project NOAH, and we integrated our LiDAR maps with our improved weather information to generate simulation models and come up with early-warning systems for flood, storm surge and landslides,” Montejo said.
It was projected that by 2030, there will be trillions of dollars in business investments across all sectors, including those in hazard-prone areas, and so the need to assess and reduce risk becomes imperative for the private sector and disaster preparedness is no longer a choice but a must.
Montejo said, “Science should be put to work to save lives as this is what President Aquino stressed in the aftermath of Typhoon Sendong, and Project NOAH has since then provided us with a flood early-warning system with a six-hour lead time using advance software technology, flood modeling and simulation and real-time data gathering from more than 1,500 sensors all over the country, all these developed by our own Filipino scientists and engineers.”
Project NOAH is the flagship program of the DOST that provides a digital platform as repository of weather and hazard information that includes rainfall amount, typhoon track, water level monitoring system, flood, landslide and storm surge hazard maps.
These hazard maps were produced using the light detection and ranging technology, or LiDAR, under the Disaster Risk and Exposure Assessment for Mitigation component of Project NOAH. Montejo said that aside from disaster preparedness, the DOST strategy also proved effective in coming up with more reliable, site-specific risk information for better land-use planning.
Also, by harnessing science and technology, Montejo said the DOST was able to identify safe and hazard areas using LiDAR technology and it was proven effective as the settlement areas identified were safe two years later, when Typhoon Agaton hit the same areas and caused massive flooding.
“The science-based approach served as basis in establishing the bedrock of the government’s ‘building back better’ program,” Montejo added.
During the recent Typhoon Lando, which flooded low-lying areas in Bulacan, Nueva Ecija and Pampanga, Project NOAH hazard maps identified 15 municipalities, flooding 357 square kilometers that will possibly affect 600,000 people. With this information, local government units and other stakeholders can prepare early and provide supplies and evacuation centers to lessen the impact of flooding.
Image credits: S&T Media Service