Leyte reconstruction: MGB maps 'no build zones'

NEED FOR MAPPING. Geohazard mapping can help identify where it is safe to build infrastructure. File photo of Palo, Leyte by EPA/RITCHIE B. TONGO

NEED FOR MAPPING. Geohazard mapping can help identify where it is safe to build infrastructure. File photo of Palo, Leyte by EPA/RITCHIE B.

TONGO

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will help identify areas in typhoon-ravaged Leyte where it is unsafe to build relocation sites.

The request for assistance came from the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the agency in charge of rebuilding infrastructure in the province devastated by Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).

In response, the DENR's Mines and Geosciences Bureau will send a team of 5 licensed geologists on the week of November 25 to survey the localities.

It will take a week or two for the team to complete the mapping of so-called "no build zones," areas where building of infrastructure should not be permitted because of their exposure to landslides, flooding, or storm surges.

"This would help us clearly define the permanent relocation sites," said MGB Director Leo Jasareno. "There are still many displaced residents in need of permanent shelter."

These danger zones will then be plotted on multihazard maps currently being used by local government units. It can serve as a guide to the LGUs, which face the challenge of rehabilitating and rebuilding their communities – some from scratch.

Geohazard mapping

The MGB has used the same technology and expertise to help the country brace for Yolanda's ferocity. A day before the super typhoon made landfall in Eastern Samar, the bureau released data showing the localities in the country most vulnerable to landslides and flooding.

It showed Caraga in northeast Mindanao to be the region with the highest percentage of municipalities where landslides and floods are most likely to occur. On November 8, when Yolanda unleashed its heavy rains, MGB data warned 41 barangays in Mimaropa region were highly vulnerable to landslides.

The data was based on geohazard maps prepared by the bureau which looks at naturally-occuring or human-catalyzed geological phenomena that can endanger human lives. These include landslides, floods, and land subsidence or the lowering of land surface because of excessive extraction of water from the ground.

The Geohazard Mapping and Assessment Program is an on-going priority program of the DENR. Aside from data gathering and assessment, it aims to distribute geohazard maps to local government units and conduct seminars for community leaders in preparation for geohazards.

The identification of disaster-prone areas is an essential component of rebuilding Yolanda-hit areas so they are better prepared for the next calamity. Other disaster-ready ideas have sprung up with suggestions for sports stadiums that can be converted into evacuation centers and typhoon-ready housing

President Benigno Aquino III is set to certify as urgent a P14.6 billion fund that will go mainly to rebuilding infrastructure in calamity-struck regions. Yolanda alone caused around P12 billion worth of damage to infrastructure. – Pia Ranada/Rappler.com