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Reducing the risk in Manila

By Peter Fitzgibbon - 29th October 2013 - 10:31

Local government in the Philippines is set to benefit from the launch of risk maps and datasets to aid its response in the event of disasters

No cities and municipalities are safe from natural hazards and disasters. However, not all hazards have to lead to disaster.

This was the overarching message at the launch and handover of multi-hazard and risk Maps for the Greater Metro Manila Area (GMMA) earlier this month. The event, held by the Australian and Philippine Governments at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Ortigas, Pasig City, also marked the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction.

Handed over to GMMA officials at the launch were hazard and risk assessment maps that are expected to aid Local Government Units (LGUs) enhance their Local Disaster Risk Reduction Management (LDRRM) plans. An average of 87 maps for each of the 24 LGUs in the GMMA were handed over as well as datasets containing physical, demographic and socio-economic information. These data are vital in assessing who and what may be affected when a disaster strikes. The maps and data may also be used as a resource in preparing improved land use and contingency plans and targeted investment programmes.

National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) Executive Director, Under Secretary Eduardo Del Rosario said, “The local government units and the local chief executives must know the hazards and risks in their respective communities. Records have shown and past experiences have proven – from Ondoy, Pepeng, Habagat, Maring, and the 7.2 magnitude earthquake in Bohol in early October – that disaster can strike anywhere. Measures must be taken to reduce vulnerabilities and to minimise threats. We may not be able to prevent disasters, but we can empower ourselves to prevent lost lives and further deplete our economic resources.”

Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Bill Tweddell said, “The increasing scale and frequency of natural disasters are costing the country millions every year, and studies have shown that due to changing climate patterns and the rapid urbanisation in the GMMA, it can get even worse. Natural hazards, however, do not have to lead to disasters especially if we are able to carefully assess the risk of an area and properly plan for the long-term. But we can only do that if we have the data. The Australian Government is pleased to have worked closely with the Philippine Government in producing these maps which can now help us prepare for such scenarios.”

The maps and the accompanying data are results of the ‘Risk Analysis Project’, a three-year collaboration of the Australian Government aid program with Geoscience Australia, the Philippines’ Office of Civil Defense, and the agencies under the Collective Strengthening of Community Awareness of Natural Disasters (CSCAND), which include the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, National Mapping and Resource Information Authority, Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration, and the Philippine Institute for Volcanology and Seismology.

Unlike previously available hazard maps that only show where natural hazards such as earthquakes, tropical cyclones and floods may occur, the RAP risk maps take into consideration details like the population, the existing infrastructure, and other area characteristics, thus, are able to show an assessment of the potential damages to life and property, or in other words, “disaster risk.” The maps also show increasing risks for various earthquake, severe winds, and flood scenarios.

Apart from the maps, however, proponents of the project also emphasised the need for cooperation and collective action to reduce the vulnerability and enhance the resilience of urban communities.

“The past few years - and even this year - have shown that urban areas, particularly the Greater Metro Manila Area, can also experience large-scale disaster. In 2012 alone, the Philippines had the most disaster-related deaths in the world with over 2,300 lives lost. All members of the community, from the government to the residents, thus have the responsibility to take part in disaster risk reduction. We must all be proactive in helping reduce the risk of our community,” said Usec Del Rosario.

Also present at the launch were Department of National Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chairman Francis Tolentino, Metro Manila local government executives and technical officers, and members of the CSCAND agencies. Following the launch, comprehensive risk assessment maps covering the Greater Metro Manila Area are now available to local leaders and the general public through the GeoPortal website (pictured above).

Source: GMA News Online

Read More: Emergency Services Security & Safety Disaster Management Municipal Government

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