South Korea has committed to help the Philippines in disaster preparedness with a $3M grant that will be used to set up modern early warning and monitoring systems to be deployed in flood ravaged Metro Manila and adjacent municipalities.

The disaster preparedness technology package will include seven automatic weather stations, five water level gauging stations with video monitors for rainfall and flood forecasting system, 20 warning posts with emergency radio communication systems, and voice/fax/data communication systems along the Marikina river.  The package is facilitated through the Korea International Coordinating Agency, which also tucked in patrol and maintenance vehicles in the project.

KOICA and the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration, an attached agency of the Department of Science and Technology, has recently completed the first phase of a community based early warning and monitoring system project in the province of Aurora, Jalaur river basin in Iloilo, and the Agus-Lake Lanao watershed in Lanao del Sur.

PAGASA Director Prisco Nilo said Aurora benefited from the automatic weather station installed during phase I of the EWS project during storm Ondoy’s onslaught where the province had zero casualty.

But the massive floods in Metro Manila and adjacent municipalities in the wake of Ondoy prompted DOST to seek assistance to set up EWS in the sprawling capital.

      “Under this project, we are introducing the community-based flood early warning system in Pasig and Marikina areas where the communities and local government units are involved in the operation and maintenance of the entire system,” Nilo explained.

     The Pasig-Marikina River is the main river basin in eastern Metro Manila stretching from Rodriguez in Rizal to Pasig, and passing through San Mateo, Marikina, and Quezon City. This river basin’s depth ranges from three to 21 meters and spans 70 to 120 meters. It is one of the main tributaries of the Pasig-Marikina- Laguna de Bay basin with 353 sq m. drainage area.

      The EWS phase II will start in the second week of November. Korean and PAGASA experts will conduct site reconnaissance, data collection, and information discussions.  It is planned to be completed by next year.

      KOICA will dispatch a survey team and experts, and will train PAGASA personnel in handling the equipment.

      The EWS enables authorities to take appropriate actions eight to 12 hours in advance before actual floodwaters swamp affected areas. The system is guided by state-of-the-art monitoring facility called “automatic weather station” that measures actual rainfall.

      Eighteen municipalities near Metro Manila will be provided with liquid crystal displays for monitoring under the project. It also has a component on information dissemination and education of the public on what precautionary steps to take during typhoons.
“People are also have to be educated on how the system works so they would take the necessary and appropriate actions during disasters,” DOST Secretary Estrella F. Alabastro added.

“I am pleased at announcing that the Korean government has decided to provide long-term assistance through the Establishment of the Early Warning and Response System for Disaster Mitigation in Metro Manila. With the success of the EWS Phase I, I trust that we would be able to replicate this to Metro Manila,” Korean Ambassador to the Philippines Joong-Kyung Choi in a statement said. 

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