The farther a community is from an earthquake’s epicenter or point of origin, the less hazards it will experience. Right?


Joan Salcedo of the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (DOST-PHIVOLCS) debunked this notion during a forum on disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) at the DOST Executive Lounge last December 11, 2015.

The forum was organized by the DOST-NCR office as part of the Department’s recently concluded “Science Festival.” 

According to Salcedo, there are other factors that determine whether hazards from earthquakes are set to occur aside from distance from the epicenter. These factors are the local soil conditions, intensity of ground shaking, and the structural integrity of houses, buildings, and other infrastructures. 

To illustrate her point, Salcedo, with the help of some forum participants, recounted earthquake incidents in the country that brought considerable damage to communities kilometers away from the epicenter. 

Reducing disaster risk, she said, is a function of reducing vulnerability and exposure to hazards. One way of reducing vulnerability is through education. 

On the other hand, reducing exposure to hazards requires informed actions such as seismic retrofitting and relocation. Seismic retrofitting is the modification of buildings and houses to make them resistant to ground shaking and collapse during tremors. Hence, a good approach to improving the implementation of DRRM measures is to start with public awareness, Salcedo said. 

Salcedo later guided the participants in answering an earthquake vulnerability checklist developed by PHIVOLCS dubbed ‘How Safe is My House?’ 

Aside from discussions on earthquake preparedness, a lecture on the technology behind DOST’s Project NOAH (National Operational Assessment of Hazards) was delivered by Neil Eneri Tingin, one of the project researchers. 

In a separate interview, Tingin stated that familiarization with and appreciation of DRRM technologies is crucial in utilizing them, thus leading to reduced occurrence of hazards. 

Tingin also demonstrated the beta version of the new NOAH website launched earlier that day. The new website features a simpler user interface for easier map navigation and new DRRM tools that are all publicly accessible. 

The DRRM forum convened members of local government units, students, and teachers from Las Piñas, Manila, Marikina, Quezon City, and Taguig.

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