Manila, Philippines: Environmental Science for Social Change (ESSC), Philippines, will make available the Philippines government’s geohazard maps on its Web site, www.essc.org.ph before the end of January, according to Leo Jasareno, Director of Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB). These maps have been prepared by the MGB.
Jasareno said, “We just want to raise the awareness on disasters such as floods and landslides. We want to reach out to the local government units (LGUs) and the people; we want to maximise the use of the information to the lowest unit of society given the technology.’’
The ESSC is a Jesuit research organisation that promotes environmental sustainability and social justice through the integration of scientific methodologies and social processes. Philippine media has already received digital copies of the maps, and agreed to upload these on their websites.
In the aftermath of recent landslide in Compostela Valley that killed at least 28 people and the December 16 flashfloods and mudslides in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan cities that left a death toll of more than 1,000, the existence of the geohazard maps has come to the fore anew.
The issue is not whether the local government units used the maps, but whether they heeded MGB’s recommendation to move residents away from mountain slopes and near rivers and waterways, Jasareno said. “It was partially implemented. They forced the evacuation of people from danger areas, but after some time the people went back,’’ he said of Pantukan, the site of the recent landslide in Compostela Valley. “If the maps were followed, we would not have had casualties.’’
In the geohazard map, the colour-coded natural hazards—landslides, floods and flashfloods—are superimposed on the topographic map of the Philippine, from the province down to the municipal and barangay level, according to Jasareno.
The geo-hazard mapa, which take up 60 gigabytes and covers 700 sheets, has a “high resolution’’ unlike the map currently posted on MGB’s Web site www.mgb.gov.ph, Jasareno informed. The maps could come in handy in weather forecasts. TV or online news could flash the geohazard maps of provinces, towns or barangays that are in the path of a storm and vulnerable to either landslide or flood, and promptly warn people, he added.
The maps are on a scale of 1:50,000 (1 cm in the map corresponds to 500 meters on the ground). The MGB is magnifying the maps to a scale of 1 to 10,000 (1 cm is to 100 meters on the ground), he said.