The Philippines, like other countries in the Pacific Rim, are exposed to a variety of hazards including floods, storm surges and strong winds associated with tropical cyclones, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and landslides. The severity of tropical storm Ketsana prompted the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) to request technical support from UN-SPIDER and the activation of the International Charter: Space and Major Disasters.
National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council
Shirish Ravan, UN-SPIDER
On 9 July 2010, UN-SPIDER conducted an expert mission to the Philippines to conduct meetings with the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council and other government agencies. The mission included a meeting with government agencies that are members of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) including the Office of Civil Defense, PAGASA, the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA), the Mines Bureau and the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS).
The mission allowed UN-SPIDER to establish closer links with its National Focal Point NRRMC and with other government agencies within the Philippines. The mission allowed these agencies to become aware of the mission of UN-SPIDER, the type of Technical Advisory Support that it can provide to the Philippines and on the usefulness of space-based information in case of disaster-risk reduction and emergencyresponse. The meeting allowed participants to discuss the usefulness of space-based information during the 2009 typhoon season (Ketsana, Parma, Lupit and Mirinae), potential applications in the upcoming typhoon season as well as lessons learned, and existing mechanisms such as the International Charter: Space and Major Disasters and Sentinel Asia that have been established by the space community to support countries facing the impacts of major disasters. The mission also allowed UN-SPIDER to become aware of on-going efforts in the Philippines in the areas of disaster-risk reduction and emergency response.
The Philippine government has launched a mobile phone application which can provide real-time information on rainfall and flooding to the general public. The application has been added to the already existing website hosted by The Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards (NOAH). This organization aims to provide information about bad weather and thus mitigate disasters such as floods, typhoons and landslides. The NOAH mobile application will initially be available only for Android smartphones.
Since the information provided in geohazard maps shows the level of susceptibility of an area to hazards such as flooding and landslides, they should be used by local government officials, according to the Mines and Geosciences Bureau-6, Phillippines. Leo Van Juguan, regional director of MGB-6, repeated his call for all local chief executives to use the geohazard maps given to them in 2010 to prepare their people and prevent loss of life.