Agus, Lanao del Norte - Department of Science and Technology Secretary Estrella F. Alabastro and South Korean Ambassador to the Philippines Joong-Kyung Choi led the launch of community-based early warning system on flood that’s expected to enhance Lanao del Norte’s preparation and management against weather-related hazards.
The Korean government funded the project through the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) in cooperation with DOST’s Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration. The National Power Corporation-Mindanao Generation manages the project.
This project is a visible and pro-active expression of the collaborative relationship of the South Korean and Philippine governments,” NPC-MinGen Vice President Eduardo Eroy said.
He added that it is a challenge for NPC-MinGen all stakeholders to make the best of the anti-flood equipment that hopes will also serve as landmark and legacy of NPC-MinGen to Mindanaoans.
The project could defuse tensions, inconveniences, and losses within the Lake Lanao-Agus River watershed while its reservoir optimization function enhances NPC’s corporate governance in power system and environmental management. “We consider this project as our support for peaceful and developed Mindanao,” Eroy concluded.
Meanwhile, PAGASA Executive Director Prisco Nilo explained that the project involves two automatic weather stations, five tipping bucket rain gauges, and four water level gauges installed in Lake Lanao-Agus River watershed. New data monitors at the NPC- MinGen office keep track of the amount of rain and water level in Lake Lanao-Agus River watershed in real time through SMS technology, which are important in disaster preparedness and prevention.
PAGASA also trained volunteers in running the equipment, and in weather monitoring and flood early warning systems.
“About 80 percent of disasters in the country are related to floods. And since 1973, early warning systems especially for floods are limited to major river basins, and these are operated by DOST-PAGASA, Nilo said.
“Under this project, we are introducing the community-level flood early warning system in collaboration with NPC-MinGen and the local government units in the area,” he added.
On the other hand, the Agus-Lake Lanao community-based flood forecasting and warning systems highlights the importance of partnership among the government, private sector, and civil society. It is also in line with DOST-PAGASA’s thrust of empowering the people at the grassroots level, Alabastro also said.
“This project will effectively enhance the capacity of the local chief executives to deal with natural hazards right in their own localities”.
Alabastro expressed hope that the project could lead to significant reduction in the exposure and vulnerability of affected communities by raising their understanding and knowledge about natural hazards.
“With this warning systems in place, we are confident we could help save lives and reduce property damage in the days to come,“ she added.
For his part, Joong-Kyung Choi said that the project marks another milestone in RP-Korea’s development cooperation. He noted that the Philippines was among the hardest hit by recent natural calamities and millions of Filipinos were affected. The country also suffered enormous infrastructure, social, and economic damages.
“I understand that PAGASA is not only the name of the weather agency, but also has a meaning of “hope”. I believe that this early warning and monitoring system will bring hope to the people of Lanao, he said.
DOST Region 10 Officer-in-Charge Jacinto Taran, Sr. said it is the stakeholders responsibility to show that they are worthy of the South Korean government’s support by ensuring the sustained operation of the facilities and equipment.
“The challenge is not only for NPC-MinGen but for all of the people in this area of Mindanao and the whole country,” Taran added.
The launch of the Agus-Lanao Lake Early Warning Systems facilities completes the three-part countryside, community-based flood mitigation project funded by KOICA. The other two similar projects are in Baler, Aurora province and in Jalaur, Iloilo City.