MANILA, Philippines – More than 5,000 villages in the Philippines have flood hazard maps, thanks to a disaster preparedness and mitigation project began by the government two years ago.
This was one of the major achievements cited by Science and Technology Secretary Mario Montejo in celebration of the second year anniversary of Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards, also known as Project NOAH.
Project NOAH was created in 2012 by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) in response to a directive by President Benigno Aquino III for a disaster preparedness program that would enable the government to warn communities of impending disasters.
Specifically, Project NOAH is supposed to give citizens a 6-hour lead time for them to evacuate and take measures to prevent loss of lives and damage to property, said Montejo.
Montejo cited two major achievements of Project NOAH:
1. Barangay flood hazard maps
The Disaster Risk and Exposure Assessment for Mitigation (DREAM) project under Project NOAH surveyed the country’s 18 major river systems and used that data to create flood hazard maps.
Out of the 18,000 villages or barangays covered by the data gathering, 5,060 already have flood hazard maps. These maps enable barangays to identify the specific areas in their community that are vulnerable to flooding.
This helps barangays pinpoint which areas are safe or unsafe for evacuation or relocation sites.
2. 7-day weather forecast
Another project now allows citizens to know what the weather will be 7 days ahead. This data generated by Weather Information-Integration for Systems Enhancement (WISE) is now used in daily weather forecasts by state weather bureau PAGASA.
Soon, WISE will provide seasonal forecast 6 months in advance.
“Later when we can do seasonal forecasts, our farmers will be informed of what crops to plant and when is the best time to plant, thereby increasing agricultural productivity,” Montejo stated.
More projects underway
Project NOAH has more disaster preparedness initiatives under its sleeve.
It is developing an advanced storm surge warning system that provides a high-resolution simulation of how a storm surge will affect localities. (READ: Storm Surge 101: Are you at risk? Are you prepared for it?)
Anyone using the technology will see exactly which areas in their community will be reached by the storm surge and how deep the floods will be.
The project, called Coastal Hazards and Storm Surge Assessment and Mitigation (CHASSAM), makes use of enhanced hazard mapping so communities can see exactly what areas in their locality will be affected by the surge.
But this version only predicts the height of the storm surge and the list of localities likely to be affected.
Filipinos should be proud of Project NOAH since the technology it uses was developed by Filipino scientists, said Montejo. “We are able to harness Filipino talent in Project NOAH, particularly in the hydromet sensors we have installed all over the country.”
Scientists at DOST’s Advanced Science and Technology Institute fabricated the almost 1,000 automated rain gauges, water level sensors, and weather stations installed in the 18 major river basins. – Rappler.com
This article was originally published in Rappler on July 22, 2014.