Australian Embassy
The Philippines

MR110916 Metro Manila to Benefit From Disaster Risk Data from Australia-Philippines Project


The Australian Government today handed over to the Philippine Government a state-of-the-art data set that promises to transform the country’s approach to assessing disaster risk and reduce the vulnerability to future natural disasters of millions of Filipinos living in Metro Manila.

The Australian Government, through its agencies AusAID and Geoscience Australia, has funded an aerial survey of the greater Metro Manila area using the modern Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) technology to generate a high-resolution three-dimensional model of a city as well as detailed imagery. This is the first time that cutting-edge LiDAR data has been used in the Philippines.

At a ceremony in Ortigas, Australian Ambassador to the Philippines, Rod Smith, delivered the new data set to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) and the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA).

“The frequency of disasters and their consequent impact is on the rise. Their severity and impacts are predicted to intensify with climate change. We are well aware that natural disasters constrain efforts for people to escape poverty,” Ambassador Smith said. “High quality risk information is the first line of effective disaster risk reduction.”

Over the next two years, Australia will partner with relevant Philippine agencies to use the LiDAR data to build more accurate risk profiles of Metro Manila to model the impacts of disasters in terms of human casualties, damage to houses and critical infrastructure, and crop losses. The effort is focused on Metro Manila because this is where disaster risk – in both human and economic terms – is most heavily concentrated in the Philippines. This Php260 million (A$6.5 million) package is part of Australia’s response to the devastation wrought on Metro Manila by tropical storm Ondoy almost two years ago.

AusAID and Geoscience Australia are working closely on this effort with the NDRRMC, the Office of Civil Defense, and the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority, and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, together known as the Collective Strengthening of Community Awareness on Natural Disasters (CSCAND) agencies.

Once developed, the new risk models will be made available to all of Metro Manila’s local governments. This will enable governments and communities to better understand their vulnerability to earthquakes, floods and severe wind so they can prepare and fund their disaster action plans. The risk models may also be applied to other hazards and the potential impacts from climate change.

“This risk data gives a big boost to the disaster risk management effort in the Philippines. Comprehensive and accurate risk information is a powerful tool. It will allow national and local governments to target funding more effectively by, for example, identifying schools and hospitals requiring work to become disaster-resilient,” Ambassador Smith said.

“We cannot stop the earthquakes, typhoons or flooding rains that will strike Metro Manila in the future. But we can act to prevent the deaths, hardship and economic damage that these disasters regularly cause,” Ambassador Smith said. “A better understanding of the major disaster risks is essential to guide the right kind of preventive actions that will reduce the destructive impact of future disasters.”

Australia and the Philippines have a strong relationship, underpinned by over 50 years of partnership in development cooperation. The aid partnership with the Philippines is one of Australia’s largest, with more than Php20 billion in official development assistance over the last five years. Australia’s current annual aid to the Philippines is estimated at almost Php6 billion – placing Australia amongst the top grant donors to the Philippines.