The topography of disaster risk reduction: UNDP maps out hazard awareness in typhoon-affected communities
Tacloban, Philippines – The conversation has begun in some of Typhoon Haiyan’s hardest hit communities thanks to a mapping project implemented by Office of the Civil Defense (OCD) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) that began this week in Tacloban, Philippines.
Launched in Fisherman’s Village in Barangay 88, the project saw the installation of a large map, which shows flood hazards in red, in a public space. This barangay is coloured completely red; it is flood-prone. During the November typhoon, 1,000 residents from Fisherman’s Village died, almost all of the survivors were left homeless or displaced.
“We love our barangay but if we live in hazard, we will have to leave Barangay 88,” said community council member and resident, Ms. Editha Pacuri.
She and 30 of her neighbours joined the presentation by the city’s Disaster Management Office, OCD, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) and UNDP.
Being introduced to the map inspired a vital dialogue that will save lives; what to do in case of fire, where to escape in the face of a storm, how to take steps to protect yourself when an earthquake strikes.
Rolling out in six barangays to start, the UNDP-supported project will see the public display of various hazards present in the varied communities; floods, tsunamis, landslides, earthquakes. In all, 1,500 barangays will be given maps of showing the hazards they face.
“After seven months of reviewing the [typhoon] response, it became apparent that there was a gap in awareness in the community,” said Dr. Blanche Gobenciong, Director of Region VIII OCD. “In response to this gap, OCD with UNDP came up with the idea of putting maps in the communities at risk.”
It is through this public display of the hazards based on scientific research that people can best understand where they are vulnerable. That is the first step, according to UNDP’s Country Director, Maurice Dewulf.
“This important intervention helps people see where they are in danger and helps in their decision making to respond before disaster strikes,” Mr. Dewulf said. “The maps are posted where everyone can see them. This will energize the community to prepare contingency plans and know how to protect themselves.”
While posting the maps is the first step, it is vital the residents understand what the maps are showing. During launch, they learned how to read map legends and were keen to ask questions about safety and relocation.
“When it comes to disasters, there is no such thing as over preparedness,” said Frederic Anido, from Tacloban’s City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council. He also explained that the city is building new homes out of harm’s way. The maps provided in this UNDP-supported exercise inform the community why moving away from at-risk areas is important.
For Ms. Pacuri, this brings a sense of relief. She says everyone is ready to move away from the floods and be safer from the risk of another super typhoon.
In March, UN Development Programme’s Goodwill Ambassadors like Ronaldo and Zinédine Zidane took to the pitch to play UNDP’s annual Match Against Poverty and raised funds for the Typhoon Haiyan response. It was with the proceeds from the match that supported this maps project, which is one of several UNDP interventions in the area.
For more information, please contact:
In Tacloban: Lesley Wright, UNDP Communications Specialist, email@example.com, +63 917-506-7375;
In Bangkok: Cherie Hart, UNDP Regional Communications Advisor, firstname.lastname@example.org +66 8 1 918 1564;
In New York: Damian Kean, UNDP Communications Officer, email@example.com, +1 212 906 6871