Only days after the U.S. government announced it would fund nearly a million-dollar expansion of the Philippine’s risk intelligence and early warning system, Typhoon Nalgae (locally named Paeng), swept the nation—causing extreme flooding and landslides that have so far claimed the lives of more than 100 people and displaced nearly 200,000.
“While the losses from Nalgae are substantial, the impacts could have been even more severe were it not for the newly operationalized PhilAWARE system that we launched in partnership with the Philippines Office of Civil Defense (OCD) in 2021,” said Pacific Disaster Center’s Deputy Executive Director Chris Chiesa.
Chiesa emphasized that PhilAWARE is a solution designed in collaboration with the Philippine’s disaster management community to help decision makers better anticipate disasters and their impacts and effectively prepare for and respond to events like Nalgae.
PDC is a University of Hawai’i applied science and research center which has partnered with USAID’s Bureau of Humanitarian Affairs to help equip vulnerable countries around the world with enhanced disaster risk reduction capabilities using the Center’s DisasterAWARE multi-hazard early warning, modeling, and risk intelligence platform.
“2022 has already presented the Philippines with many natural hazard challenges,” said USAID’s Mission Director, Ryan Washburn. “USAID is proud to collaborate with OCD and PDC on continuation of this project and is grateful for this partnership which highlights USAID’s continuing commitment to support partner nations in disaster risk reduction efforts.”
The PhilAWARE project expansion will build greater regional disaster management capacity and localized use of the PhilAWARE system for disaster planning, response, preparation, and recovery.
“With OCD’s operational use of PhilAWARE, we have already seen the fruits of our labor to protect our citizens from hazards. We are happy to have this enduring partnership with PDC and USAID to continue this vital work at the subnational level,” said OCD Administrator Usec Ferrer. As noted by Ferrer, the PhilAWARE system is operationally used at the nation’s Emergency Operations Center in Manila to prepare and respond to disaster events throughout the country.
The PhilAWARE Phase II expansion project kicked off in Manila on October 11, 2022, highlighting successful Phase I operational use cases by the Philippines’ OCD and detailing the activities to be undertaken in Phase II. Phase II activities will include expanded subnational use and training, data development and integration, and system upgrades.
The PhilAWARE Phase II kickoff workshop was attended by more than 45 participants including representatives from OCD, other National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) member agencies including the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), Phivolcs, Mines and Geosciences Bureau, and Department of Social Welfare and Development, as well as USAID, the United Nations, and private sector representatives from organizations like GeoData, Sandz, and more.
With a full week of activities, the PhilAWARE Phase II kickoff week engagement also included a subnational kickoff in Region III (Central Luzon) on October 13, 2022, followed by system user training session delivered to representatives from Region II’s OCD and NDRRMC to introduce operational use. PhilAWARE Phase II project activities are scheduled to continue through July of 2023.