Project NOAH: Saving Filipinos one update at a time

By Jacky Lynne A. Oiga

“Take with you seven pairs of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and one pair of every kind of unclean animal, a male and its mate, and also seven pairs of every kind of bird, male and female, to keep their various kinds alive throughout the earth.” Genesis 7:2-3

This was God’s specific instructions to Noah when he asked him to build an ark for him and his family in preparation for the great flood that would wipe out the wickedness that has plagued the earth together with all mankind.

After the deluge, God established a covenant with Noah that never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth. Until mankind started neglecting and destroying nature resulting to what we now call, climate change.

Biblical reference or not, it’s very clever for the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) to name its disaster prevention and mitigation program as Project NOAH or Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards. Not because the Philippines is a hotbed of wickedness like what was said in the bible but because the Philippines, geographically is a hotbed of typhoons that lead to the most feared weather disaster known to Pinoys — floods.

According to the DOST, Project Noah is the agency’s response to President Aquino’s instructions to put in place a responsive program to be able to provide a 6-hour lead-time warning to vulnerable communities against impending floods. The program also use advanced technology to enhance current geo-hazard vulnerability maps.

And now that the rainy season is upon us, the DOST and the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) are exploring all means to disseminate timely information on disaster alleviation and risk reduction. Thus, the Project Noah website and mobile app were created.

The website (noah.dost.gov.ph) is equipped with instructions for easy navigation of geo-hazard vulnerability maps. It’s useful for people who want to see flood-prone areas through maps, check rain probability charts and know the amount of rainfall, temperature, air pressure and humidity in specific areas.

Meanwhile, the Project Noah apps for iOS and Android aim to give mobile device users the same information and features found on the website right at their fingertips.

Data found on the website and apps are gathered from rain and steam gauges, weather stations and Doppler radars placed in strategic locations all over the country.

DOST said in its official website that Project NOAH will provide more high-resolution flood hazard maps and install 600 automated rain and install 600 automated rain gauges and 400 water level measuring stations for 18 major river basins in the country in the next two years.

The 18 river basins identified are: Marikina River Basin, Cagayan de Oro River Basin, Iligan River Basin, Agno River Basin, Pampanga River Basin, Bicol River Basin, Cagayan River Basin, Agusan River Basin, Panay River Basin, Magaswang Tubig River Basin, Jalaur River Basin, Ilog-Hilabangan River Basin, Agus River Basin, Davao River Basin, Mindanao River Basin, Tagum-Libuganon River Basin, Tagaloan River Basin and Buayan-Malungun River Basin.

Furthermore, the DOST encourages the public to make use of the Project Noah website and mobile apps for timely forecast on weather and flooding data.

This article was originally published in Manila Bulletin on July 10, 2013. 

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