Bringing hazard maps to communities

It’s not often that I get the chance to participate in activities that bring our work to the communities. So when a colleague invited me to help out with their event, I jumped at the opportunity. Plus it was in my home region, so that was a bonus.

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Rio Marasigan (left) and Irene Picache (right), colleagues from UP NOAH Center, talking about natural hazards, disaster risk reduction, and map appreciation, among other things.

I was there mostly to provide answers technical questions the participants may have. And since I spoke Waray and Bisaya, the languages in the region, we hoped it would bridge any reluctance to participate due to language barriers.

Our audience were mainly local government officials and planners, so the questions and concerns revolved less on the the science behind the maps, but more on the implementation side. On their part, there is a lot of confusion as to which maps to use, since there are many government agencies tasked to provide them with hazard maps. It is a fair concern, and one that gets brought up often. Unfortunately, there is no direct answer, as existing government guidelines doesn’t do much to clarify as well. Also, the fact that production of these maps are being treated as competition between institutions makes the situation more confusing and convoluted.

Nevertheless, I did bring up they should demand data and maps that will actually help them make informed decisions, such as maps that show different scenarios and not those that make blanket assumptions over a large area.

On the bright side, it was heartening to see that they were very receptive to what we presented to them. Hopefully, we can engage them more at this level and help them be able to process these data and information themselves, since the decisions will largely be theirs in the end.