Australia, Philippines launch Greater Metro Manila risk maps to help LGUs better prepare for disasters
17 October 2013
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 during the “Launch and Handover of Multi-hazard and Risk Maps for the Greater Metro Manila Area” held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Ortigas, Pasig City as the Australian and the Philippine Governments recognize the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction.
Handed over to Greater Metro Manila Area (GMMA) officials during the launch were hazard and risk assessment maps which are expected to aid local government units in enhancing their local disaster risk reduction management (LDRRM) plans. An average of 87 maps for each of the 24 local government units (LGUs) in GMMA were handed over. Also handed over was the exposure database containing physical information, population and socio-economic characteristics of communities. These are vital information in determining people, assets, and activities that will likely be affected when a disaster strikes. The maps and exposure database may also be used as a resource in preparing improved land use and contingency plans and targeted investment programs.
National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) Executive Director, Undersecretary 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 last Tuesday – that disaster can strike anywhere. Measures must be taken to reduce vulnerabilities and to minimize threats,” he said. “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 urbanization in 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, the proponents of the project also emphasized 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.
Starting October 17, comprehensive risk assessment maps covering the Greater Metro Manila Area will be made available to local leaders and the general public through www.geoportal.gov.ph.