UNGP-IPASD Mission Report

The CSCAN Community Awareness Network: Philippine Advances in Disaster Preparedness

 

By Jean J. Chu, Project Consultant

24 July 2001

 

The CSCAN (Crustal Stress Community Awareness Network) is now approaching its second year of operation. This project began in 2000 as an initiative of the United Nations System (UNDESA and UNDP). Funded by the Foundation for Research and International Education relating to Natural Disasters (FRIEND) of Minnesota, USA, ten sets of crustal stress monitoring devices were built in Beijing, China and transported to the Philippines. Within a few weeks, this initiative sparked the enthusiasm and vision of the Philippine people: local communities in Luzon opened their doors to host and facilitate the work of the UN Global Programme-IPASD experts. The Government of the Philippines mobilized their Engineering and Search and Rescue Forces, utilizing helicopter and air transport, as well as 17-ton drill rigs and personnel from the Army, Air Force and Navy, to aid in the construction of the CSCAN sites. (See Mission Report of January 1, 2001.)

 chinese scientists at CSCAN drill rig

In May 2001, another team of UNGP-IPASD experts joined their Philippine counterparts to continue the transfer of advanced social and scientific technologies for the forecasting of large and sudden natural disasters.

 

In the six weeks that followed, these activities / results took place:

 

1.      An intensive 4-day workshop in June 2001, was held at the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) to train national scientists and local municipal workers from Batangas City and the Municipality of Infanta, Quezon Province, in the analysis and interpretation of crustal stress data for the prediction of earthquakes in the Philippines;

 

2.      At the request of the Governor of Isabela Province, a CSCAN site was established in the Provincial Capitol of Ilagan. The crustal stress observation site is housed at the educational complex of the Provincial Museum and Library. This site completes the ten-station lay-monitoring network for the northern island of Luzon. This network strengthens the protection for one third of the Philippines against the devastation caused by earthquakes and volcanic eruptions;

 

3.      Upon the enthusiastic request of the meteorological scientists at the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), an impromptu 4-hour training class followed a morning lecture (which ended with a standing ovation) that introduced Chinese meteorological advances in forecasting devastating weather disasters. PAGASA subsequently submitted a formal written request for technology transfer as soon as possible. The UNGP-IPASD expert, Professor Zhenqiu Ren, also lectured at PHIVOLCS on the use of his technology for forecasting earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

 

4.      The CSCAN project now has the direct involvement of UNDP Philippines. Mr. Terence D. Jones, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in the Philippines, provided timely and critical logistical support and security advice during the field trips made to the CSCAN sites. He has appointed Hon. Corazon Alma G. de Leon, former Chair of the Civil Service Commission and also of the Mount Pinatubo Commission, as the UNDP Special Adviser on Social Technologies for the CSCAN project in the Philippines.

 

5.      The primary focus of the CSCAN project is that of raising community awareness to the signals provided by the local environment that are related to natural disasters. Community participation is therefore central to the CSCAN project, along with the willingness of the grass roots (barangay/village) level residents, to learn and implement the social and scientific technologies offered by the project. Towards this end, Ms. Corazon de Leon joined with scientists from PHIVOLCS, the UNGP-IPASD, and from Carleton College, USA, to strengthen community awareness and participation at each CSCAN site.

 

6.      After only eight months of operation, there are already three cases where the CSCAN network has provided signals for earthquakes of magnitude 5 to 7, weeks to days in advance of the natural events. The ESTAPE scores for the most recent research results are encouraging and indicate that the CSCAN system is functioning well as a forecast system.

 

7.      On July 27, 2001, the Regional Development Council (RDC) of the Philippines National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) in Region 2 (northern Luzon) unanimously passed document No. 02-30-3001: “A Resolution of Support to the Crustal Stress Community Awareness Network Project (CSCAN) and Recommending for its Expansion in the Region”. This is the first Region/RDC to have officially accepted the project and asked for its expansion. This resolution incorporates the CSCAN project into the national plan for this region. The other regions of Luzon have expressed similar RDC action-plans regarding the CSCAN project.

 

The  above outcomes are a result of the Philippine people, from all walks of life, owning, operating and utilizing new social and scientific technologies to strengthen their capacity to see ahead for natural disasters. The Philippines now has the potential to become one of the leading countries in disaster preparedness and mitigation.