MANILA, Philippines - Risk assessment maps were turned over Thursday to local governments in the Greater Metro Manila area to help them craft effective disaster response policies.
A total of 24 local government units each received an average of 87 maps from member agencies of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) and the Australian government.
Greater Metro Manila Area is composed of areas in Metro Manila as well as Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal.
The turnover ceremony was held two days after the killer earthquake in Visayas that left more than 150 persons dead and several centuries-old churches damaged.
The multi-hazard maps are expected to provide local governments with science-based data for a better understanding of existing risks in their area.
They can also be used to craft disaster risk reduction and management policies and land use plans, enhance contingency measures, identify relocation areas and communicate hazards to the public.
The maps illustrate areas that are vulnerable to disasters like earthquakes, severe wind, landslides and floods. They also take into account key details like the population and existing infrastructure to allow authorities to evaluate the potential risks to life and property.
â€œThe increasing scale and frequency of natural disasters are costing the country million every year,â€ Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Bill Tweddell said.
â€œNatural 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,â€ he added.
Tweddell said Australia is pleased to have worked with the Philippine government in producing the maps.
Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) chief Renato Solidum Jr. said a series of training would be conducted to enable local officials to use the maps. He said preparation is crucial in mitigating the impact of natural hazards.
For his part, NDRRMC Executive Director Eduardo del Rosario said it is important for local governments to be aware of the risks in their respective communities.
â€œWe may not be able to prevent disasters but we can empower ourselves and our communities to reduce casualties and damage to properties and economic resources,â€ he said.
Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista, League of Cities of the Philippines president, welcomed the development of the risk maps, saying this would allow them to mitigate the effects of disasters.
He said the information would allow them to look ito land use plans and alert residents in high-risk areas.
The maps and the accompanying data are results of the â€˜Risk Analysis Project,â€™ a three-year collaboration of the Australian government aid program with Geoscience Australia, the Philippine Office of Civil Defense, Phivolcs, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, National Mapping and Resource Information Authority, the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration.