Project NOAH to continue

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Project NOAH or Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards was born in the aftermath of Typhoon “Sendong” in 2011 when former President Benigno Aquino 3rd called for “a more accurate, integrated, and responsive disaster prevention and mitigation system, especially in high-risk areas throughout the Philippines.” It was launched in July 2012 in Marikina City.

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The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) had three ongoing DOST-funded independent projects related to disaster – ClimateX, Weather Sensors Development, and Disaster Risk and Exposure Assessment for Mitigation or DREAM. These were consolidated, and were added to three other projects – Storm Surge (under PAGASA), Landslide and WebGIS.

These projects were approved and formed Project NOAH with Dr. Mahar Lagmay as executive director. They shared data and became the core of DOST’s flagship program, the Disaster Risk Reduction/Climate Change Adaptation (DRR-CCA) which then DOST Secretary Montejo called the NOAH Program.

It also worked with the DOST through PAGASA, PHIVOLCS, and Advanced Science and Technology Institute (DOST-ASTI) in partnership with the UP National Institute of Geological Sciences and the UP College of Engineering.

This program, with a budget of P6.4 billion, was beefed up with 19 components, including the original six projects plus DREAM-LiDAR, 3-D Mapping, FloodNET, Landslide Sensors Development, and Hydro-Met Sensors Development. All of these had starting and completion dates.

Most component projects were completed in December 2015, including Project NOAH, hence it was expected to transfer to PAGASA all the technologies it had developed. By 2016, the transfer could not be completed so Lagmay proposed ISAIAH or the Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards: Integrated Scenario-based Assessments of Impacts and Hazards, which was approved in March 2016.

Toward the end of project ISAIAH, Lagmay requested extension up to November 11, 2016 having not completed the transfer that the DOST recognized, citing the value of the experts trained under Project NOAH.

A transition project under Pagasa will absorb many of the Project NOAH personnel, in line with the recently passed Pagasa Modernization Law.

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2 Comments

  1. There is something not right here, if PAGASA modernization went though the long process of many budget deliberations at the lower and upper house to get sponsored by a lawful bill, how does Noah magically become a national project, when not even a mandated gov’t agency, yet get instant funding to the tune of 6.4 billion twice that of the state weather forecasting agency that patiently waited through the terms of the past three presidents. For comparison that’s like outsourcing the entire AFP defense budget x2 to a private security firm, it just makes no sense.

    A no nonsense COA audit needs to be conducted before any trunover to Pagasa because from the start there was issue with the national mapping agency Namria that already had sophisticated mapping technology, yet Noah opted to contract for Lidar spending unnecessarily an additional billion pesos of taxpayer money sourced from PDAF. It’s so mysterious how Dr. Lagmay a geologist suddenly became an expert on weather forecasting and instrumentation, questionable the projects meteorological standards are compliant.

    Lagmay even encouraged the lie that Noah’s budget was spent on Pagasa doppler radar up-grades, when all the Dop-rad equipment upgrades were Pagasa’s projects from meager budget allocation augmented from bi-lateral technology transfer grant in aid projects, overseen closely by foreign science experts from donor countries thru JICA, KOICA, UNDP or AUS-AID. Unlike Noah a Pdaf white elephant that could not pass expert scrutiny to qualify for foreign funding.

    Throughout his term Pnoy oppressed gov’t weathermen and wanted the Pagasa replaced with Noah, three Pagasa heads were forced to resign and many forecasters too joined the ranks of OFWs abroad in disgust. While Pnoy gave both special blessings and budget x2 to Doc. Mahar’s project rather than the rightfully mandated gov’t service, but of course Noah could never forecast weather and that is why Pagasa still could not be abolished.

    Turns out on closer examination Noah has lots of technical and budgetary anomalies, Dr. Lagmay has a lot of explaining to do.

  2. So clearly the previous administration spent several billions on hazard mapping, well after that it would save a lot of taxpayer’s money to just color encode hazard warning into street signs.

    Anyway most Filipinos are too lazy to look up a map even if their life depended on it. For some years now I have been thinking that for anyone to be familiarized with hazard mapping, I believe the best way is to inculcate it at the community grass roots level, by encoding it in colored street signs, ff exs:

    a) “Red Zones” are all flood prone streets/areas settlements along riverbanks/coastal communities etc., the corresponding street signs should have red background, to warn that this is a highly flood prone area.

    b) “Orange Zones” should be the color of the street signs to designate less flood vulnerable or moderately elevated areas that are usually safe unless the flooding is very severe.

    c) “Green Zones” for color of street signs where you expect the most safety from flooding, being highly elevated with reliable drainage systems. By common sense it would be the area you would want to build or evacuate to.

    Then variations…

    d) “Violet Zones” use this street sign color for areas on active fault lines.

    e) “Brown Zones” are for streets that are at risk to landslide

    You can even also color code the individual house numbers to pin point specific location, for example all violet colored house numbers are on an active fault.
    Such color coded street sign warnings will be plain and simple to announce in times of emergency, instead of announcing the individual barangays affected.
    ex. “…attention all residents with red signs in Marikina, flood alert is in effect, prepare to evacuate.
    As people view these colored street signs on a daily basis, while they commute around they will become familiarized with streets (areas) to avoid specific to flood or other particular hazard.

    By the way project Noah is actually an off shoot of the READY project that operated under UNDP, Aus-Aid funding, which initiated multi-hazard mapping under the PGMA’s. Then after came multi-billion budget NOAH as the paragon of Pnoy’s prudent PDAF spending.

    Fear not Dr. Mahar, peer gov’t scientist will now get the chance to validate the data out-puts of your projects and it’s cost per-benefit as advertised.