GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/27 May) — The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) is pushing for the full adoption by local government units (LGUs) in Region 12 of various disaster management technologies developed by the agency to enhance their preparedness and capability in responding to possible disasters that might hit the area.
DOST Secretary Mario Montejo said the agency has made available a range of science-based tools that could further strengthen the disaster management plans and programs of LGUs in the area and eventually make them more resilient to disasters.
He said local governments may now access vital tools like 3D or three-dimensional hazard maps, flood models, hazard simulation software and related mobile applications as well as services available through the website of its flagship Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards initiative or Project NOAH.
DOST formally introduced these tools and technologies to the region’s local governments on Monday in connection with the two-day Region 12 leg of the “Iba na ang Panahon (INAP): Science for Safer Communities” roadshow here.
Region 12, which is also known as the Soccsksargen Region, comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.
“We developed these new tools to raise better awareness and understanding on various hazards that may affect our local communities,” Montejo cited in his speech delivered by DOST Assistant Secretary Raymund Liboro.
The official said the 3D or high-resolution maps and the flood modeling solutions mainly allowed the agency’s scientists to study major hazards and bring better forecast warnings that could give enough lead time for community residents to take necessary actions.
He said these hazard maps are effective tools in terms of understanding inundation, floods and storm surges at the municipal, barangay and community levels.
“(Using) these new information will spur the right disaster imagination to guide you in your respective community plans,” he said.
Montejo explained that disaster imagination means anticipating the worst-case scenarios for potential disasters to enable local chief executives and disaster managers to “think and act two steps forward — using scientific data — and have a visual estimate of their impact” to local communities.
The INAP roadshow here, which is supported by the Department of the Interior and Local Government and the Office of Civil Defense, is the 16th activity launched by DOST since March in various parts of the country.
The DOST launched the initiative as part of its four-point agenda to guide community disaster preparedness, which drew lessons from the impact of super typhoon Yolanda that hit parts of the Visayas region in November last year.
The four-point agenda focuses on “increasing local risk knowledge, capacitating hazards monitoring, testing warning and communications protocol and building response capability in communities.”
Around 500 local officials and local disaster risk reduction and management personnel from various parts of the region joined the roadshow, which included workshops and exercises on the identification of local hazards like fault lines, previous flood and storm surge episodes and other calamities that affected and might affect communities in the face of the changing global climate.
Region 12 had its share of major natural calamities in the last several years, among them the series of floods and landslides in this city and nearby Alabel town in Sarangani Province July 2012 that was spawned by unusually heavy rainfall in the area.
Floodwaters reaching as high as two meters submerged highways and local communities, forcing hundreds of residents to evacuate.
Last April 20, a strong tornado ravaged Barangay Tingacan here and two neighboring villages, destroying 48 houses and around P6.8 million worth of agricultural crops and properties. (MindaNews)