International experts extend assistance to Project NOAH

Published on March 24, 2014 Updated on August 28, 2014


The Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards (NOAH) Program continues to contribute to the Philippines’ disaster risk reduction efforts by tapping into the expertise of various international disaster scientists, who are committed to helping our country in its goal to create safer and disaster-resilient communities.   Matt_horrit

Matt Horrit, a VSO volunteer, is helping with the implementation of a national flood warning system. He is also sharing his expertise in Flood Risk Engineering by training the NOAH and DREAM staff in hydrologic modeling. He is now providing technical advice on hydrology and modelling for flood forecasting and mapping.

Horrit  completed a BA in Natural Sciences (Physics, Mathematics, Chemistry, Geology) at Trinity College, Cambridge and PhD in Environmental Science Environmental Systems Science Centre, University of Reading (Enhanced flood flow modelling using remote sensing techniques). He was also an awardee of the Chartered Environmental Engineer, awarded by the Chartered Institute of Water and Environmental Management.

Horrit is an experienced chartered engineer, researcher and scientific programmer, who also works as an independent consultant developing approaches to environmental and flood risk management in the UK and abroad. He has more than 15 years of experience in research and development in industry and universities; extensive experience in technical training; developing practical solutions for flood risk management for a wide range of clients and applications; and experience of working with development NGOs in Indonesia and the Philippines.


Gianluca Norini is a volcanologist  who wrote a script for an ArcGIS plug-in that automatically identifies alluvial fans from a Digital Terrain Model (DTM) in the Philippines. Norini also took part in the identification and mapping of sinkholes in Tagbilaran, Bohol and fault mapping  after the Magnitude 7.2 earthquake on October 15, 2014. Norini is currently a researcher in structural geology and volcanology at Consiglio NazionaleDelle Ricerche (CNR). He is well-published in ISI-ranked peer-reviewed journals, and his field of expertise includes volcanology, structural geology, volcanotectonics, volcanic stratigraphy, neotectonics, geological mapping, hazard assessment, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), remote sensing, analogue and numerical modelling, volcano sector collapses and slope instability.

Benjamin Koenig

Benjamin Koenig is a German volunteer of VSO Bahaginan who is currently helping Project NOAH and the UP DREAM Program improve the current IT Infrastructure, ensure the efficient generation of DREAM’s products and to enable the online distribution of information.

  Elodie Turpin Elodie Turpin is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Disaster Risk Reduction Management in Université Paris-Est. She believes that the Philippines is the best place to practice DRRM since the country has a lot of hazards. She is now assisting in the production of hazard maps which for her “helps reduce the vulnerability of communities in the Philippines against hazards.”    Alastair_duncan

Alastair Duncan, of Environment Agency of England and also from VSO is a geomatics technical expert who helps train NOAH and DREAM staff in LiDAR processing. He hopes to share his expertise from his 20 years of experience in remote sensing as well as flood and environmental management. Duncan graduated with an MSc in GIS from Leicester University in 1993, and has since been working mainly for the UK Environment Agency’s Geomatics team as their technical specialist in the development of applications for LIDAR and other remotely sensed data, particularly for flood risk mapping.


Arnold van ‘t Veld is doing a pilot study on the Pampanga River Delta using the 3Di model, a newly developed flood modelling system. He will be working with two components of the NOAH Program; the Flood Modeling Component of the DREAM Program and the Storm Surge Component.  He is currently finishing his Master’s thesis on Hydrologic Engineering and Water Resources Management at the Delft University of Technology and the National University of Singapore.


Gabbie Yewondwossen Assefa is currently providing technical guidance in making the WebSAFE section of the NOAH website. This includes guidance in the technology to use for the web, how to customize the technology to the Philippine needs, and better data manipulation. Assefa works as a technical consultant in the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) Labs, a World Bank partner which promotes open source technologies, data-sharing and using hazard-information for decision-making.


Efrath Silver, VSO volunteer, is a policy advisor for Disaster Risk-Reduction and Management, who is currently assisting in the review of the Philippine DRRM policies.

Silver is formerly a policy advisor for the Association of Regional Water Authorities, which represents regional water authorities in national policy processes regarding flood risk management. Silver was also a fellow of the Friends of the Earth Middle East, which specializes in climate change and water conservation. She completed a MSc in Environment and Resource Management at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.Silver has gained diverse and international experience in the governmental, consultancy and non-profit sectors. Her specialties includes water and environmental management, climate change, international policy processes, poverty reduction and awareness raising.



Monika Beutel, VSO volunteer, conducted baseline research to assess the impact of VSO volunteers in the operations of various components in the NOAH Program. Beautel also shared her expertise on capacity-building in the DREAM component of the NOAH Program.



Arnoud Keizer, VSO volunteer, is currently a project management and flood modelling advisor in the DREAM Component of Project NOAH. Keizer helps monitor and evaluate the tasks and improvement of project management and skills in the DREAM Component, and advises on flood modelling issues.
Keizer is a civil engineer who specializes in river hydraulics, flood risk modelling and the design and safety assessment of dikes and hydraulic structures. His professional experience include designs of flood protection works in Netherlands, Indonesia, Poland, China and Vietnam.
Keizer finished his M.Sc on Civil Engineering at the Twente University in Netherlands.

Dr. Simon Matthias May, Dr. Max Engel and Dr. Dominik Brill are coastal geomorphologists by training and are affiliated with the Institute of Geography, University of Cologne (UoC), Germany. Their expertise lies mainly in the fields of Holocene coastal evolution, coastal geoarchaeology, tsunami geology and palaeotempestology. After Typhoon Yolanda in November 2013 they set up a research program on the geomorphic and sedimentological impacts along the coast of the Visayas Islands together with Prof. Dr. Helmut Brückner (Institute of Geography, UoC) and Michelle Reyes (Marine Science Institute, UP): The project receives funding by the Faculty of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, UoC, and a UoC Postdoc Grant. In the future, investigations will also focus on exploring sedimentary records of prehistorical typhoons or tsunamis in order to provide estimates on local maximum inundation as well as recurrence intervals over longer time periods. These records may support the work of project NOAH on coastal hazard assessment.

Dr. Max Engel

Max received his PhD through a study on palaeotsunamis in the Dutch Antilles. One of his further academic foci is Arabia where he investigates the sedimentary record of a palaeo-lake in Saudi Arabia in terms of palaeoclimatology and the coastline of southern Qatar for the reconstruction of Holocene coastal changes.

Dr Simon Mathias May

 Matthias has gained research experience by studying palaeotsunami records in Greece, Chile and the southern Caribbean. He is currently leading a research project on palaeo-storms in Western Australia where he uses the sedimentary record of cheniers, washover fans and backbarrier depressions to reconstruct the activity of tropical cyclones on historical and prehistorical time scales.

Dr. Dominik Brill

Dominik undertook research on prehistorical tsunamis in areas of Thailand severely hit by the Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2004. During his PhD he was trained in optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating and became an expert in its application in coastal sedimentary environs.

  The Consuelo Foundation, a Hawaii-based non-government organization which focuses women and children, is partnering with Project NOAH in coordinating multi-level discussions with Filipino counterparts. They provide an understanding of the challenges of disaster risk reduction and resilience, to set achievable goals towards helping build safe, thriving and resilient communities, and determine how to link approaches with climate change adaptation and sustainable development.


Disaster experts discuss possible partnership on disaster-resiliency in a forum organized by Project NOAH and Consuelo Foundation. (L-R : Dr. Mahar Lagmay, Project NOAH executive director; Dr. Karl Kim, executive director of the National Disaster Preparedness Training Center (NDPTC); Audrey Galo, Program Coordinator of Architecture for Humanity; Jainey K. Bavashi, executive director of the Asia-Pacific Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience (APDR3); Dennis J. Hwang, University of Hawaii Sea Grant College Program.

2I5A1148 Various experts from respectable institutions of disaster science are tapped in this partnership, namely;   Dr. Karl Kim

 Dr. Karl Kim is the executive director of the National Disaster Preparedness Training Center (NDPTC), which develops and delivers disaster preparedness training to governmental, private, and non-profit entities. It focuses on natural hazards, coastal communities, and the special needs and opportunities of islands and territories. Dr. Kim is also a faculty member at the Department of Department of Urban and Regional Planning, College of Social Science University of Hawai’i at Manoa. He received his undergraduate education from Brown University and graduate education, including Ph.D. in Urban Studies and Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). His research interest includes loglinear modeling, categorical data analysis, probabilistic data linkage, distance learning, and disaster management and humanitarian assistance.

Jainey K. Bavashi

Jainey K. Bavashi is the executive director of the Asia-Pacific Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience (APDR3). The APDR3 is a network of American institutions historically involved in the vitality, development, security, and stability of the Asia Pacific region. The APDR3 was launched at the 2011 APEC USA meetings in recognition of the profound importance of timely and effective efforts to lessen the impacts of natural and man-made crises.

Dennis J. HwangDennis J. Hwang, University of Hawaii Sea Grant College Program Coastal Geology & Geophysics; Land Use Attorney

Mr. Hwang received his Bachelor of Science degree in geology from the University of Rochester, his Master of Science degree in geology and geophysics from the University of Hawaii. He obtained his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Houston, where he concentrated his studies in the area of environmental and land use law. Prior to working in the field of law, he worked for eight years as a senior geologist and geophysicist at Exxon Company U.S.A.

Mr. Hwang has published several articles on environmental and coastal matters with the University of Hawaii Law Review and the Office of State Planning, and is author of the current manual Hawaii’s Coastal Hazard Mitigation Guidebook. He has served as a consultant for the Hawaii Department of Health, Office of State Planning, Department of Land and Natural Resources, Pacific Services Center, and Coastal Services Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. He advises clients in the areas of asbestos, assessments for property transactions, clean water, clean air, coastal zone management, cost recovery actions, due diligence, environmental compliance monitoring, hazardous waste, hazard mitigation, lead-based paint, lender environmental issues, medical waste, occupational safety and health, permitting (environmental and land use) and wastewater.

Mr. Hwang is a member of the American Bar Association (Sections – Natural Resources, Energy & the Environment; Science & Technology). He is also a member of the Hawaii State Bar Association, Natural Resources Section, where he was past Chairperson. Mr. Hwang is on the Board of Directors for the Chinese Chamber of Commerce and is current Chair of the Environmental Affairs Committee and the Land Use Committee for the Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii.

Audrey GaloAudrey Galo is the Program Coordinator of Architecture for Humanity. Galo holds a strong background in architecture, urban design and non-profit program management. Her experiences working for a range of non-profits developed her passion for social issues and using design as a tool for positive social and environmental change. She also worked as program coordinator for several US-based and international reconstruction and resilience programs for communities affected by natural disasters, responsible for the development and launch of new programs and management of global disaster responses.

Architecture for Humanity is non-profit organization that has been building a better future through the power of design for the past 15 years. They provide architecture, planning and project management services including construction management and post-occupancy analysis, and facilitate community engagement throughout each project.

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