Project Mapa by 2D Project - Research Group for Alternatives to Development, Inc.
Barangays Patao, Guiwanon, Obo-ob, in Bantayan, Cebu
Katherine Velmonte (Administrative Manager and Project Coordinator); Gerrielyn Camarines (Field Officer) Rhodora Felizarta (Finance Officer), Djanil Barrera (Administrative Assistant), and Voltaire Cerna (GIS Consultant)
A participatory and inclusive 3D map that aims to enhance the community disaster preparedness and resiliency. It highlights the active participation of vulnerable sectors with the local government units to identify hazards and capacity that will lead to creation and enhancement of contingency plan.
The innovative 3D maps are employed by duty bearers in making appropriate disaster risk reduction (DRR) interventions across the country. This includes involving the communities in identifying hazards that affect them as well as coming up with solutions to address them. Lastly, we hope for communities, especially island communities, to have better access to existing and new technologies like CNC and ODK collect that could make their DRR work more efficient and effective.
CONNECT WITH US!
As 3D map promotes disaster preparedness and resiliency, local government units, non-government units, academe and private sectors can be in partnership with A2D to support the enhancement of their contingency plan through the help of this people-science 3D map.
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When we received warnings of the incoming super typhoon, we thought it would be like any other storm. We had no idea that we would be affected in such a way, and only then did we realize that there were disasters like this that we had to prepare for.
The map is merely the output. Before, the communities used to think that it is merely the role of the local government units to create DRRM plans and policies. But because of this innovation, they realize that they also have a say, they also have a role in how they make their communities more disaster prepared.
A project originally spearheaded by A2D Project, or Research Group for Alternatives To Development, Inc., Project Mapa’s approach to disaster preparedness leads with awareness. Combining the use of local knowledge with scientific information to map their locality with greater accuracy, coastal communities are thus empowered with awareness of the importance of mapping and of who the most vulnerable are within the community. In doing so, the community gains the ability to develop further plans in the field of disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) that are better suited to the community’s specific needs.
The island of Bantayan has a land area of 108.77 square kilometers, covered in coconut palms and its coastal shorelines bordered by mangroves. The latter have served as wave-breakers during strong typhoons and storm surges, protecting the towns from major flooding but not from other damage brought forth by natural disasters. This was specifically visible during the time of Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, locally known as Yolanda. Councilor to Barangay Obo-ob Marilou Jarina recounts the damage, saying, “Before Yolanda, we had huge sprawling coconut palms, many of which were lost. 15 hectares of the mangroves were also destroyed and since replanted.”
While there were fortunately no fatalities during Yolanda, Jarina says that there was also very little awareness of what existing DRRM plans the local government units (LGU) already had in place, as well as what the actual terrain of the surrounding areas were like. “We weren’t prepared,” adds 20 year-old Risty Wenceslao, Chairwoman of Sangguniang Kabataan in Barangay Obo-ob. “When we received warnings of the incoming super typhoon, we thought it would be like any other storm. We had no idea that we would be affected in such a way, and only then did we realize that there were disasters like this that we had to prepare for.”
The barangays selected to participate in Project Mapa were chosen based on their geophysical location, as well as the fact that they hadn’t originally established a database accessible to the rest of the barangay and the municipality. There had been no previous record of particularly vulnerable persons within the community, such as persons with disability (PWD), pregnant or breastfeeding women, children, and the like. Any maps that would help identify hazards and vulnerable persons were presented in a traditional two-dimensional format that contained many inaccuracies, and didn’t allow for much of the existing slopes of the terrain. This presented a lack of information vital in making significant decisions and planning for DRRM, as well as a lack of ownership within the community of their own safety and security in times of disasters.
Project Mapa engaged three local barangays, facilitating the task of initial data collection, such as risk assessment, information plotting, and hazard analysis, among others. During the creation of the three-dimensional map, communities had a more tangible view of the contours and elevation of the land area, giving greater insight into which hazardous areas should be prioritized for evacuation or avoided for safety. There was a more visual understanding of where flood or storm surge-prone low-lying areas and where the landslide-prone elevated areas were within the community.
The communities involved took ownership right away throughout the process of constructing the actual map. It was important to the Project Mapa team that all materials used in creating the map were endemic to the location or locally sourced, for the practical reason that as the map continues to be updated or if it should ever need repairs, it is possible for the community to do so immediately, conveniently, and without too high a cost. Councilor Jarina took charge in Barangay Obo-ob, assigning colors for designated areas like women’s centers and evacuation centers, which the rest of the community shared their input on. Local dried plants were painted to signify palms, bright green foil shaped into mangroves, and color-coded pushpins were then used to identify homes with vulnerable persons.
Certain pivots or changes were made throughout the development of the maps, especially upon consultation with other barangays who already had experience with 3D mapping. The use of more resilient base material, such as high-density Styrofoam or a cork-like mid-density fiberboard, was employed so as to keep the three-dimensional shape intact for a longer period of time. The size of the map was also reduced from an original 4×8 foot model to 4×4 feet for more practical placement.
COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT AND IMPACT
For the youth of Bantayan, especially, Wenceslao says that the 3D map and the training that’s come with its presence has done wonders. She says that she attended more DRRM seminars in which she and fellow youth were taught about what to do during natural disasters—to stay together, not to separate, and whoever separates must have an emergency pack with food, water, a change of clothes, and flashlights. She believes that the youth is an effective channel for change, especially when it comes to older members of the community who may be hesitant when it comes to advances in technology. “When we share our knowledge to other youth, we all are able to learn together. Everyone becomes more aware and they’re able to share what they know to their families. If there are older members of the community who have a difficult time understanding what the map is for, we’re able to pursue the topic and convince them more effectively.” Wenceslao adds that her experience of seeing destruction wrought by Yolanda is what made her want to be involved in empowering local youth, and that the 3D map has added to fulfilling that purpose. “Not all the youth here have the awareness that we’re next in line. We’re the future leaders, and we’re responsible for making possible whatever those before us weren’t able to do. The 3D map has become our guide, and wherever we are, that’s also where it should be.”
“The map is merely the output,” says Project Mapa team leader Katherine Velmonte. “Before, the communities used to think that it is merely the role of the local government units to create DRRM plans and policies. But because of this innovation, they realize that they also have a say, they also have a role in how they make their communities more disaster prepared.”
Project Mapa is one innovation that is consistently in progress. Its sustainability is largely dependent on the community’s involvement and dedication to continuously update the map, into greater and greater specificity as nature affects the terrain and as the constituents moving in and out of the area change over time. Jarina, who says that many locals have come from the farther reaches of the barangay to add their homes to the census, and their knowledge of their locale to the map. Specific groups such as persons and children with disability, as well as the elderly, have gained more visibility and experience empowerment because of their input in constructing the map.
It is worth noting that the previously mentioned use of indigenous or locally sourced materials is a key part in making both the expansion and preservation of the map possible. The simple idea of not having to go to look too far or to import materials, to be able to acquire what is needed in an area where not everything is as easily on hand as it would be in surrounding cities, both brings a certain ease of maintenance as well as gives the community a greater ownership of the project at hand.
Also key is the training that comes hand in hand with the map. The barangay’s coordinated efforts to educate its citizens and the different sectors within the community on the scope of their possible involvement during the occurrence of disasters gives a more comprehensive understanding of what the map holds, and likewise gives more value to the preservation of the map itself, as well as the responsibility to perpetuate its existence.