Hazard Map Saved Hundreds of Lives!

Hazard Map? What is it?

Will hazard map help save a life or just another tool in extracting data from the community?

Its been a while since I haven’t posted any activity.

But while conducting extension work, I was inspired by the result of their activity.

I learned that a hazard map is important in times of disaster.

For that reason, I wrote this article to inspire you too with their activity.

Don’t know what a hazard map is?

Read this informative post about hazard mapping.

Download this free guide from Japanese experts on how to do it.

They shared hazard mapping along with vulnerability mapping in disaster prevention.

For the purposes of definition,

Hazard maps indicate settlement areas that are at risk from floods, avalanches, landslides and rockfall. A separate map exists for each of these hazard categories. The maps can be used to identify areas that could be flooded by the next storm, locations where avalanches could be released and slopes where a landslide could arise.

The hazard maps also provide detailed information about the causes, course, spatial scope, intensity and probability of occurrence of natural hazard events.  www.planat.ch

Would you like to know how this little map saved hundreds of lives?

Read on.

As I read the report from my colleagues, I learned that they were conducting DRRM and hazard mapping in Brgy. Longsob as an extension activity. The villagers conducted this for the first time.

Based on Republic Act 10121, DRRM is 

the systematic process of using administrative directives, organizations, and operational skills and capacities to implement strategies, policies and improved coping capacities in order to lessen the adverse impacts of hazards and the possibility of disaster. Prospective disaster risk reduction and management refer to risk reduction and management activities that address and seek to avoid the development of new or increased disaster risks, especially if risk reduction policies are not put in place.

disaster risk reduction management training
Dr. Malabarbas discusses RA 10121 to the villagers in Brgy. Longsob, Calbayog City.

They were also informed of the RA 10121 as discussed during the series of activities. The output of their activity was an improved Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) plan.

Another activity was disaster drill awareness and hazard mapping.

With the help of the Local Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office, the team of extension agents put markers of hazard-prone areas and early warning system.

Everyone was involved in the activity, not only the officials but even residents. This makes the extension activity more useful and meaningful.

Disaster drill in Brgy. Longsob

What happened then?

Last December 28, 2018 Tropical depression Usman downpours and devastated Calbayog City particularly in riverine areas.

Several people were reported dead in other neighboring villages.

When we visited Brgy. Longsob for action research, I asked what happened during the disaster.

According to them, the water level was too high. The emergency water level monitoring they set up was even destroyed by the heavy current.

Looking at their hazard map (below) the identified areas as hazard-prone (high risk) was in red.

hazard map
Hazard Map of Brgy. Longsob

And it occurred that their community hazard mapping was exactly correct.  Their areas in the red zone were heavily destroyed while the community residents also were able to relocate themselves before the flood.

The community knows best!

Benefits of Community Hazard Map

The residents said that the tragedy was unexpected, but even in those circumstances the disaster drill, planning, and orientation was able to equip the residents.

Moreover, when asked if there were casualties, there answer – NONE!

Thanks to the Hazard Map and the DRR drill that were conducted by NwSSU extension agents and the local DRR team.

The residents were aware and prepared about how to be resilient in times of disaster.

And also thanks to the hazard map.

Many lives were saved because of it. The residents were aware of where to go and evacuate.

Its one the activities that our extension agents are doing.

The essence of community participation

Capacitating people to be resilient is involving them in planning.

Without participation, there would be no results.

The true meaning of extension work is not building back better, but in helping people to become resilient and survive in times of disaster and unforeseen circumstances.

Community Participation
Hazard Mapping with the Community residents in Brgy. Longsob

Ways to make use of plastic waste and reduce plastic pollution

Here are some ways to make use of plastic waste and reduce plastic pollution

Have you ever thought of recycling your plastic waste?

Well, here is a little innovative way to make use of your plastic waste and even earn money from it.

This was just an idea from our Environmental Management students at Northwest Samar State University.

As a faculty of Environmental Management, we encourage students to practice recycling plastic products.

As a steward in the environment, we advocate environmental protection by all means.

Hence, the students in celebration of the 4th National Clean Up day organized a fund-raising activity at the same time participating in the #1AM5MILLIONPH.

Before I will share what they did.

Let me share 7 little ways on how to reduce plastic pollution as mentioned in the Plastic Oceans Organization.

reduce plastic waste

One of the tips that shocked me is number six. Although I am not a person is a fan of gum. It enlightened me that this should not be eaten. It’s just a synthetic rubber.

Alright, I guess those things are pretty easy to do. It all takes a matter of discipline.

So, on the 4th National Clean Up Day, our students had a photo booth.

Yes, a photo booth which is made of recycled materials (mostly plastic bottles).

The idea behind is that anyone who will take photos in the booth will have to pay P10. Of course, the person will wear the recycled materials as their headdress or face mask.

Like the ones, you see below.

reduce plastic waste

Its fun and you help raised money for the students activity.

It’s simple as that.

Join us here and other supporters and advocate of free plastic society.


Other ways to support reducing plastic waste is to join or volunteer in various advocacy groups like

Plastic Bank

Plastic Oceans

Plastic Pollution Coalition

Reasons Why We Flood

Why we flood?

Environmental Planner, Arch. Armando Alli shares his insights on why we flood.

In his facebook post, the Architect mentioned two main reasons we why flood especially in Metro Manila.

Here is what he wrote:


Two (2) other key reasons as to why we flood i.e. aside from the Metro Manila Area (MMA) being a large floodplain, high tide situations seaside, excessive rainfall, denuded elevated areas at upland side, and our antiquated and clogged i.e. poorly maintained drainage systems are :


Too much paving around buildings/ dwellings prevent surface water percolation (water seeping into the soil to help recharge aquifers and in a way, the percolated water helps retard soil subsidence and saltwater intrusion); the very same over-paving does not retard surface water flow and instead accelerates the transfer of storm/ rain/ drainage water to clogged drainage systems and/or onto the heavily concreted roads that then act as large surface canals that bring such collected storm/rain/drain water to lower elevations at a very fast clip (resulting in flash-floods or even inundation, and therefore misery and extensive damage to properties and health/ well-being of the populace); and


There are limits on what can be built on a property and these have all been set in laws such as P.D. No. 1096 (the 1977 National Building Code of the Philippines/ NBCP), P.D. No. 957, B.P. Blg. 220, R.A. No. 7279.

LGU zoning ordinances (ZOs) and their respective regulation streams e.g. IRRs, guidelines, standards, procedural manuals, department administrative orders (DAOs), memorandum circulars (MCs), etc., and in a plethora of other recent executive issuances, including the 2015 DPWH Design Guidelines, Criteria & Standards (DGCS, particularly Volume 6 on Buildings and Other Related Structures), the 2015 DPWH PH Green Building Code (PGBC), the 2000 Architectural Code, etc.;

YET, both the private sector (particularly building designers) and the supposed regulators in Government think that most of these are mere suggestions (and since we are apparently a soft state, they expect no punishment for their act/ non-action relating to required compliances).

In the 2004 Revised IRR of the NBCP alone, percentage of site occupancy (PSO), setbacks, percentages of impervious surfaces (i.e. those that prevent water percolation), and the like have already all been set in great detail; yet, we see illegal construction such as firewalls, yard and road right-of-way (RROW) encroachments, lack of open spaces, illegally-reclaimed legal easements, etc., all with pavement, by the way, more as the rule rather than an exception, with the sole reason being that the regulators have NOT done their jobs (although of course, there are permitted exceptions in cases of extreme hardship of lot owners to comply, a matter also determined by the regulator).

Both the DPWH and its deputized LGU (local) building officials and the DILG and its LGU officials (including municipal/ city engineers who are unable to protect the mandated legal easements along waterways that have been illegally reclaimed, thus narrowing these drainage-ways), share a large part of the blame for the perennial flooding, especially at low-lying areas.

Over-building and over-paving have been regulated since mid-2005 when 2004 Revised IRR of P.D. No. 1096, the 1977 NBCP was promulgated by the DPWH i.e. the first time that the regulation of both physical planning (macro-micro) concerns and building design (micro) concerns have been integrated into a single rule book.

Unfortunately, its implementation and enforcement have been weak at a most critical period (2005 to date).

We are now reaping the results of that weakness over the nearly 1.5 decades when development and construction nationwide were already at an all-time high. Thanks.

——— side note —— end of the post

With that said, I think there is a lot of things we need to overhaul in our system here.

Social Enterprise with A Twist!

Looking for ideas to boost your social enterprise?

Before we go down to the nitty-gritty of this article, I would like you to know that this post is based on my travel to Bangkok, Thailand.

While networking with other researchers, I was also interested in knowing the people and customs in Thailand.

Fortunately, I had this experience in an expo.

social enterprise
Craft for Change: A social enterprise expo in Bangkok. Thailand

As a social scientist and environmental planner, I am interested in discovering social innovations.

It is inspiring to see people making a change in the community.

When I was in Thailand, I was able to witness an exhibit about a social enterprise making a social impact.

Watch this video to learn what is social enterprise.

The social enterprise creates an impact on the beneficiaries and also to the environment.

This is nice to know because many of the things today are harmful to our environment.

What I learned from the exhibit is that they feature original handmade products.

When I say handmade, its means handmade!

They do not use any machines in making the products. Notice the photo below.

social enterprise handmade product


Yes, it can be tedious but this is social entrepreneurship with a twist.

Unlike with many social enterprises, they utilize people to craft their products with the use of just hands.

These products used materials which are environment-friendly.

Not only that they have a purpose of creating it. The proceeds help community organization to raise funds and help their members.

This is the essence of the social enterprise.

Below is a sample product I bought to support the cause of social entrepreneurs.

social enterprise for cause
With the seller of handmade products dedicated for the oldies.


The beneficiaries of the organization are the old people.

While helping people, they also help the environment.

Such an inspiring move.

If all only many organization are like this, then we would have to live a sustainable life.

What do you think about this social enterprise?

Share your comments below.

Assessment of Water User Fee For Improved Water Supply

Researchers from NwSSU conducts a survey of the possibility of coming up with a water user fee.

Its purpose is to improve the water supply in the Calbayog City.

This is possible through the protection of the Calbayog Pan-as Hayiban Protected Landscape (CPHPL).

The premise was there is occasional insufficient water supply in the city. According to the local residents, there is a low water supply early in the morning. If you are in an elevated area, water seldom is unavailable during peak hours from 5:30 am to 7 am.

Also, previous researchers show unsustainable farming practices like slash and burn farming in CPHPL.

Slash and burn and other land-use practices affect water supply.

Thus, conducting a survey for the protection of watershed areas is necessary. To do this it needs an approach called payment for the ecosystem or environmental services.

So, the team asked the lowland water users if they are willing to pay for sustainable water supply. Likewise, if farmers are willing to shift their farming practices to a sustainable one.

After six months, the team finished the valuation study in Calbayog City. This was through the funding of the DENR Region 8 and with the help of provincial ENR in Catbalogan.

The team conducted a random survey of 700 households from lowland water users. Meanwhile, about 300 upland farmers living in the watershed protected area.

For the lowland water users, there are only 412 who responded to the interview. Others were busy and they are not present in their houses during the field survey.

From the results, there are only a few people who knew about the main source of the raw water which is the CPHPL.

Some perceived that raw water is from Ton-ok falls.

Over half (56.3%) of the respondents perceived that it is from the water district.

A little over half (51.8%) of the lowland water users have an alternative water source.

These are from water vendors, deep wells, and a little 13 % are using rainwater harvesting facility.

The real question in the study is, “ are you willing to pay for an extra amount for the protection of the CPHPL?”

Only 46.6 % are willing to pay for this. 53.4% are not willing to pay.

One reason was that they cannot afford to pay any extra amount for what they are currently paying. A majority (81.9%) did not feel the effect of insufficient water supply.

Here is a summary of the willingness to pay vis-a-vis their awareness about the CPHPL. This tells us that if they are aware of the watershed, they are willing to pay for the protection.

water user fee for watershed protection



For upland farmers, there were 350 farmer respondents out of 2, 820 households (as of 2014 , CPHPL Manual).

The study shows that majority of them were willing to accept compensation for land use change. Their willingness to accept is due to shifting cultivation and slash and burn.

But, there are few lowland water users who are willing to pay for the watershed protection. Meanwhile, the majority of farmers are willing to accept this compensation. Thus, in this case, the possibility of payment for ecosystem services is not workable.

Yet, with the governments’ funds, watershed protection is still a good thing to pursue. But, this would also entail other water users will share the cost of protection (e.g. NIA, Electric Cooperatives and Water Districts).

Even so, the cost or value of watershed protection is as follows.

Please see table below.


These values are the people’s perception of the value of watershed. It appears that lowland water users have low perceived value over the upland water users.

This is because upland farmers got their daily living in watershed protected areas. But, lowland water users were not able to link watershed provisioning services (e. g. water) of CPHPL to themselves.

As such, there should be an environmental awareness campaign about the watershed.  Failure to do so will decrease the willingness to pay over not willing to pay for ecosystem services.

How about you?

Are you willing to pay for watershed protection for improved water supply?

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