News / Asia

Philippine Planners Plot Disaster Risks

A view of a portion of a damaged highway in Getafe, Bohol, a day after an earthquake hit central Philippines, Oct. 16, 2013.
A view of a portion of a damaged highway in Getafe, Bohol, a day after an earthquake hit central Philippines, Oct. 16, 2013.
Simone Orendain
Philippine disaster risk reduction planners are mapping their way through the hazard-prone parts of metropolitan Manila with a tool that will help pinpoint vulnerable structures, assess population density and calculate financial losses should disaster strike. Planners are looking to use it nationwide.

The Philippines is one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world. Its location in the Pacific places it on tectonic plates, making it vulnerable to earthquakes, as well as tropical cyclones and heavy rain.  

Over the years, various geo-hazard maps have been issued showing fault lines and flood zones - areas where disasters could happen. But the maps the national government recently gave officials of the 16 municipalities in Metro Manila indicate the effects of ground-shaking from earthquakes, wind damage from cyclones and flooding from heavy rain.  

The scenarios were simulated with LiDAR, a remote sensing technology that illuminates an object [like a building] with lasers and analyzes the light it reflects.

Risk analysis

Geologist Renato Solidum heads the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology and his office did the risk analysis of earthquake scenarios. He said these new maps help planners foster their “disaster imagination.”

“Sometimes in order to convince decision-makers and even people to do things right away is, you have to show: How many people will die, how many buildings will suffer, how many millions of pesos would you need to rehabilitate or replace this? You need damage or impact figures, rather than the threat.”

In the risk analysis project, one earthquake scenario shows a 7.2 magnitude quake in the metro area would result in 37,000 dead and would cost $56 million, with varying degrees of damage to floor area.

The country is not only naturally disaster prone, its urban centers are beset with multiple factors that increase exposure to risk. These include rapid growth, non-compliance with zoning and building codes, squatters in flood-prone areas and poor solid waste management.  

'Exposure database'

Researchers on the project created what they call an “exposure database.” It combines population and structural information, such as a building’s age and where development has spread, to pinpoint at-risk areas.  In exchange for getting the software and training on how to use it, city planners have to update the database with details from their localities and share it with national government.

But Ishmael Narag, a researcher also at the Institute, said being prepared when disasters happen does not have to depend on the technology. He said smaller, poorer municipalities can still take action.

“Even if they don’t have the sophisticated LiDAR data, they can probably do, say, a Level C assessment of the risk, using the available data from the assessor’s office, the census data and other surveys that are being done within the municipality. Basically it provides a framework for them to come up with a risk-assessment of their own,” said Narag.

Herbert Bautista, Quezon City Mayor and president of the League of Cities of the Philippines, calls the new maps and database a “big deal for local government.” At the turnover of the maps to Metro Manila’s municipalities on Thursday, he said this new tool would help local governments comply with a national law that requires land-use plans to include risk areas.

“The data can help government stop developers from trying to put up subdivisions on fault lines or soil that easily takes in water,” he said.

Risk planning

Narag said getting input from cities will be crucial to the success of using the new tool for disaster risk reduction planning.

“The science is only as good as what the data could give, so it’s very important that this is communicated to the local government. If you provide us with data with a very large uncertainty, the results will have very large uncertainties. So, it’s very important to lessen that uncertainty by opening up their databases,” he said.

The risk analysis project that led to the creation of the maps and the database was a collaboration of the Australian and Philippine governments. Australia Agency for International Development funded it with $5.4 million.

You May Like

Mugabe Dismisses Male-Female Equality

'It is not possible that women can be at par with men' incoming African Union president declares on eve of summit More

Somali Terror Suspect's Light Sentence Raises Questions

Abdullahi Yusuf, 18, could have spent 15 years in prison but judge instead sentenced him to a halfway house, and a program to try to integrate him back into the community More

Video Kobani Ravaged Following Kurdish Ouster of IS Militants

Even so, hundreds of refugees sheltering in Turkey seek to return; Kurdish forces hold some back, saying fighting continues More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Productioni
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Production

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid