GEOLOGICAL SOCIETY OF THE PHILIPPINES

 
 

The KATUBIG PROJECT: A Testimony of a Geologist’s Significant Role to a Community’s Rise from Disaster

 

*Nancy R. Aguda, **Leo B. Alforte and *Jenny Anne L. Barretto

*Education Research Program, UP-CIDS, UP Diliman
**General Nakar Development Initiatives, Inc.


 

Abstract

 

Last November 2004, successive typhoons with record high rainfall caused catastrophic floods and massive landslides that devastated the municipality of General Nakar, Quezon and other adjacent areas like Infanta and Real. The disaster left General Nakar with infrastructures and agricultural lands almost totally destroyed, thousands of drowned livestock, more than 300 persons dead, and still hundreds missing. While rehabilitation programs were already well in place in Infanta and Real, emergency relief efforts were just beginning to arrive in General Nakar due to its inaccessibility.

 

The nature the disaster logically pointed to geologists as the first experts needed to lay down the groundwork for emergency relief and rehabilitation efforts. Geologists from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) immediately responded by assessing the affected areas and produced a flood hazard map of General Nakar-Infanta delta. In January 2005, volunteer geologists from Education Research Program of the University of the Philippines Center for Integrative and Developmental Studies (ERP-UPCIDS) participated in the multi-sectoral council meeting which identified priority concerns to be addressed in General Nakar. Later in April 2005, the multi-agency REINA Project was conducted.

 

The results of the multi-sectoral meeting showed that 90% of water hand pumps were contaminated, all 41 spring development systems were destroyed, and outbreaks of water-borne diseases were prevalent. These became the basis for prioritizing rehabilitation of potable water systems. In response to this immediate need, ERP volunteer geologists and General Nakar Development Initiatives (a local NGO) partnered with Terre des Hommes-Netherlands to implement the KATUBIG Project (Emergency Relief Assistance for Community Potable Water System of General Nakar, Quezon). This project opened doors for geologists to directly participate in community rehabilitation efforts. In identifying water sources, the Hydrology Section of MGB conducted resistivity surveys, while volunteer geologists from National Irrigation Administration provided technical expertise on proper installation of hand pumps. Faculty members from National Institute of Geological Sciences (UPNIGS), UP Manila, and Palawan State University taught in the Geohazard Summer Institute for science teachers.

 

The KATUBIG Project demonstrated that geologists have significant roles to play at different stages of disasters and not at the emergency phase only. Since the geology of the Philippines renders it vulnerable to natural hazards, we geologists have a wide range of opportunities to contribute to our society’s development. Aside from the conventional work of mapping resources, we can reduce the threats of natural disasters by hazard mapping, appropriate education campaign, and designing effective mitigation measures.

 

 
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