Natural disaster constitutes one of the major hazards that cause losses in the lives and properties; however, predicting disaster and its magnitude has eluded scientists and policy makers for centuries. For example, landslides prediction requires complex analyses, involving multitude of factors and need to be studied systematically in order to evaluate the hazard. The increasing computer-based tools are found to be useful in hazard mapping of natural disasters. One of such significant tools for natural disaster mapping is by using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and technology, such as the use of remotely sensed data, global positioning satellites, and environmental modeling.
The recent disaster that occurred in Southern Leyte and the Northeastern part of Mindanao and the one that happened in Ormoc City in 1991 is a wakeup call to every Filipino. Using GIS technology we have identified at least 790 thousand ha of hotspots all over the country that have similar configuration and characteristics as Leyte and Mindanao. These make these areas as potential sites for disaster. Landslide caused by heavy rain could also occur in an additional 3.3 million ha and could trigger flooding in low lying areas of the country. Collateral damage could affect approximately 6.6 million ha of agricultural and fishery, historical sites, infrastructures, and human settlements.
Results of the GIS analysis are presented in maps and statistics at the national, provincial, and municipal levels. Relief and 3D maps are also presented to a focus site in the Province of Laguna to demonstrate the potential of GIS as a tool in disaster prediction and management. The analysis also showed that the Department of Agriculture (DA) could play an important role in disaster management as approximately 80% of the hotspot areas are within its jurisdiction, the Network of Protected Areas for Agriculture and Agro industrial Development (NPAAAD).
The author also presents innovative solutions that range from short to long term investments in disaster prediction, resource management using watershed as the planning domain, and rehabilitation in the context of partnership and collaboration with the DA, DENR, NDCC, LGUs, NGAs, and NGOs. A framework for disaster prediction and management in the context of LGUs centered planning and community based driven is also being proposed.
GIS and technology can be a catalytic tool that could guide policy makers in disaster prediction, mitigation, and Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) management. Use in local governance, GIS technology can leapfrog the Philippine in the 21st century.