In 2012, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) launched a groundbreaking program in response to then President Benigno 'Noynoy' Aquino’s call for a more responsive disaster prevention and mitigation system.
Due to this, Project NOAH (Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards) headed by Executive Director Dr. Mahar Lagmay was born.
Project NOAH was an extremely promising government program that had one goal: to save Filipino lives from natural calamities like floods and landslides even before these happened.
At the same time, it was also interesting in the sense that the DOST started using advanced equipment to gauge potential hazards around the country that brought us on par with the world’s best practices when it came to disaster response.
Unfortunately for us, Project NOAH will soon be shutting down after four years of providing us with life-saving information.
The reason? Project NOAH was apparently not important enough to get the much needed funding.
“There are a lot of government funds or disaster risk reduction [pero] wala lang po for Project NOAH after February 28. We were told verbally that our request for extension will not be approved.” Lagmay told GMA News Online.
Aside from this, Lagmay said a lot of their scientists working on the program have already left due to delayed salaries that at times even went on for months.
It’s a real shame considering that Project NOAH was one of the DOST’s and the Government’s shining points. Below are some of the effects of losing this awesome program too soon.
1) More casualties during calamities
Project NOAH’s main purpose was to be an early warning system that identified potential flood and landslide zones in the country as storms hit the country.
The information gathered was then used to issue evacuation orders that were implemented by respective local government bodies. Needless to say, without all of these then the country’s state of disaster prevention and response would definitely be slower resulting in more casualties during calamities.
2) Local 'brain drain' of scientists
There’s a reason why we have a national “brain drain” problem where our homegrown and bright individuals opt to instead work and live abroad. Not only are they paid well in other countries for their expertise, they are also shown support and recognized for their talents.
3) Loss of reliable disaster mapping networks
With its shutting down, the country’s flood network that Project NOAH painstakingly mapped out will inevitably become less reliable since no one will be there to update the figures collected by their data-gathering equipment located all over the country.