“Malaking tulong para sa katulad namin ang mabigyan ng mga bagong kaalaman tulad ng paggamit at pagbabasa ng mapa. Dahil sa mga mapang ito madali naming mai-identify ang mga lugar na nasa panganib ng landslide, storm surge o matinding pagbaha”(Receiving new knowledge like learning how to use and read maps is a big help to people like us. Because of these maps we can identify areas that are in danger of landslides, storm surges, and severe flooding.),” shares Rosendo Abletes, Barangay Captain and disaster risk reduction and management officer of Brgy Sta. Margarita in the town of Quinapondan in Eastern Samar.
Rosendo Abletes is one of the 250 participants who attended the “Presentation of Multihazards Maps of Selected Municipalities in Eastern Samar to Local Government Units and Route Analysis for Evacuation Planning” workshop organized by International Office for Migration (IOM) Samar & Tacloban Office in collaboration with Project NOAH.
Spread over two weeks in January the workshop mobilized Barangay Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Officers (DRRMO), Barangay Chairpersons and other stakeholders living in the municipalities of Guiuan , Mercedes, Salcedo, Hernani, Gen. McArthur and Quinopodan. The workshop sought to expand the capacity of the selected communities to respond and prepare against the impact of extreme natural hazards through the use of multihazard maps.
Project NOAH led in presenting the high-resolution hazard maps to DRRMOs who were likewise advised on how these maps may be used for disaster management. The participating DRRMOs found this activity very meaningful and relevant. “Yung symbol at kulay na tanda ng kung anung hazard ay natutunan din namin kaya napakalaking tulong talaga sa aming paghahanda, (We also learned about the symbols and colors signifying what hazards, so it is really a big help in our preparations), says Brgy Captain Abletes .”
Among the primary focus of the workshops was the use of multihazard maps in evacuation planning and allowing the participants to make sense of the high-resolution maps provided to them in their own contexts. IOM Head of Office for Samar and Tacloban Brad Mellicker shares that “For us it was very important to work with the different LGUs in this area to revisit their existing hazard maps and disaster risk management systems while at the same time putting more advance tools at their disposal.”
Those more advance tools being the high-resolution hazard maps developed by Project NOAH. The enhancement of existing hazard maps give communities in Eastern Samar a better impression of the potential hazards in their communities because the area is rendered in maps with a resolution of at 30 meters.
Mellicker adds that after Yolanda they learned that the existing hazard maps for Guiuan , Mercedes, Salcedo, Hernani, Gen. McArthur and Quinopodan “did not take into account what had happened during Yolanda because of the low resolution of the maps.” It was then important for IOM to match the needs of the vulnerable communities with “advance technological tools developed by Project NOAH to improve the overall hazard identification of these LGUs.”
This short but meaningful learning activity gave vulnerable communities in Eastern Samar with practical know-how and capacity to respond and protect themselves against disasters. More importantly it left them with an enhanced appreciation for early preparedness and safety. Local DRRMO Victoria Pagatpatan of Poblacion 4A of Guiuan avidly expressed, “Napakahalaga sa buhay namin nito kaya gustong-gusto ko na naka-attend ako at nagkaroon ng kaalaman na makakatulong sa mga tao…Maghahanda na talaga ako at mga tauhan sa barangay. Gagawin talaga namin lahat dahil alam ko na kung paano kami lilikas padating ng bagyo. (This is very important to our lives; that is why I really like that I was able to attend and gained knowledge that will help my people. We will really do everything because now we know how we will evacuate should a typhoon come.”
Project NOAH Executive Director Mahar Lagmay shares the similar sentiments: “It is this kind of knowledge sharing that makes our work truly meaningful. Our experience in Eastern Samar–speaking to the local DRRMOs and communities, seeing how they’ve made sense of the hazard maps–demonstrates the urgency of working in the grassroots level and constantly collaborating with the barangay leaders. Our multihazard maps only matter if they are used, understood and utilized by our communities for disaster management. We should do this with the rest of 42,000 barangays in the Philippines.”
Now on its third year, Project NOAH continues to work with international and local stakeholders in scaling life-saving disaster information to the every community in the Philippines to ensure a disaster ready and resilient nation.