Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Making use of the hazard maps in the Phlippines

An editorial in the Cantanduanes Tribune (Philippines): All 11 municipalities, as well as the provincial government, have received sets of hazard maps under a disaster risk management project funded by the Australian Aid Program through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).

Hopefully, the maps would guide them in helping save their constituents during calamities. The 1:50,000-scale maps indicate areas of each town facing various hazards such as earthquake, storm surge, landslide due to earthquake, landslide due to heavy rains, tsunami, flooding and liquefaction during earthquakes. The municipal DRRM offices were also given “soft” or digitized copies.

Now, the maps are nice to look at, especially if they are wrapped in plastic, framed and nailed on the walls of the MDRRM offices. But they should serve the purpose of saving the population from certain danger as envisioned under the Ready Multi-Hazard Mapping and Assessment for Effective Community-based Disaster Risk Management (Ready Project).

In the recent past, the national government also distributed hazard maps of smaller scale to several municipalities, but apparently the maps gathered dust in drawers or in the walls of their offices. None, or very few, people in the villages saw or even had the chance to understand the import of the hazard maps.

Thus, as soon as 2014 comes in, each of the municipal disaster bodies should open the digital copies and begin zooming in on each barangay. By doing this, they can pinpoint specific areas of the village which would be highly susceptible to the hazards. Hazard maps for each barangay could then be made, after which the barangay DRRM council as well as residents could be gathered at the plaza where the particular hazardous areas could be explained. Knowing where a hazard could hit hardest and how to avoid the threat and where to evacuate could save hundreds of lives....

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