By Cheng Ordoñez
Cagayan de Oro City – The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) kicked off its Mindanao-leg information campaign for safer communities through science here on Monday (March 10).
Science and Technology Secretary Mario Montejo, who is also vice chair for mitigation of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), led the Mindanao launching of “Science for Safer Communities” (or S4SC), an inter-agency government program aimed at improving response to calamities and disasters that perennially affect the country.
This collaboration of frontline agencies buoy up the fact that using science-based tools in preparing disaster reduction plans are vital in making our communities safer and more prepared against disasters.
Anchored on the fact that preparedness is the best way to prevent the ill-effects of disasters, the program promotes the use of S&T-based information materials and tools that help communities get ready for natural calamities.
Montejo said people should take a scenario for public storm warning signals. He hope that the warnings issued by the agencies concerned will instantly trigger the disaster imagination of people in a way that a Public Storm Signal No.3 or No.4 will prompt early action among the community to adopt action plans such as pre-emptive evacuation or staying in areas identified as disaster-safe zones.
The DOST spearheads the program through its agencies such as the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs), and the Science and Technology Information Institute (STII).
Beefing up the team is the DOST’s Project NOAH (Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards).
Its partner agencies include the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), the Department of National Defense-Office of Civil Defense (DND-OCD) as the implementing arm of the NDRRMC, and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (DENR-NAMRIA).
The program’s main activity is a three-month information and communication campaign that will hop from region to region.
The campaign, also dubbed as “Iba na ang Panahon” is geared to help equip local governments with knowledge and know-how on disaster preparedness down to the town and city levels.
According to DOST Assistant Secretary Raymund Liboro, “Iba na ang Panahon” is a two-pronged slogan that means: 1) Time (“panahon”) has changed (“iba na”), so let’s move on from antiquated “tools” to S&T-based information and tools in designing disaster preparedness plans; and 2) Climate (“panahon”) change (“iba”) compels us to be more prepared for hazards to make our communities safer.
In every regional campaign, the S4SC will gather local government leaders from governors to city and town mayors, including disaster risk reduction managers or officers.
Liboro said campaign participants will learn more about S&T-based disaster/weather information and tools and how to use these to make their communities safer and more prepared for disasters.
The DOST and Project NOAH will share to the participants information, tools, and technologies that are crucial in preparing disaster risk reduction plans for their respective communities. Tools and technologies include hazard maps, websites, and apps, among others.
DOST regional offices organize and coordinate the respective regional activities.
DENR will share its maps, DND-OCD will help local governments prepare their disaster plans using DOST’s tools and technologies, and the DILG will mobilize local government executives to participate in the campaign and come up with disaster risk reduction plans.
Liboro said local chief executives and disaster managers can think and act two steps forward by anticipating with the use of scientific data and be able to know the potential of a hazard to wreak havoc in communities.
The event featured a plenary session that discussed the hydrometeorological and geological hazards in Northern Mindanao and an overview of DOST’s National Operational Assessment of Hazards (NOAH) and Disaster Risk Exposure Assessment for Mitigation (DREAM) projects, and Office of Civil Defense’s Disaster Information for Nationwide Awareness (DINA) drive.
This article was originally published in Solar News on 11 March 2014.