Scientist activist group AGHAM Advocates of Science and Technology for the People called on the government to institutionalize Project NOAH to ensure that the crucial services it delivers will not be terminated, at the same time securing the absorption of all Project NOAH employees after integration.
“Programs like Project NOAH which deliver critical functions that are essential in disaster management and ensure public safety should be prioritized and institutionalized by the government,” said Finesa Cosico, Secretary-General of AGHAM. “The project falls under disaster risk reduction, an area which should be considered a social service especially in a climate-change vulnerable country like the Philippines,” she added.
Project NOAH, which stands for Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards, is a rain and flood forecasting system that generates vital information used in disaster prevention and mitigation. Since its inception in 2012, it has regularly provided information used to abate tragedies during natural calamities by releasing early warning of possible disasters such as floods, landslides, storm surges, and others.
According to the group, an essential public service such as that provided by Project NOAH should have an established place in the government and should be given adequate and continuous funding without the need to renew regularly. Further, it should be integrated as a regular function of a specific agency to have more defined objectives under a comprehensive track.
“Risk information is very crucial in disaster management and it should be institutionalized along with adaptation strategies and capacity building,” explained Cosico. “The government must heavily invest on technology development and human resources on disaster risk reduction to be able to respond to the threat of the adverse impacts of climate change to our country,” she added.
Cosico also emphasized that this set-up, where scientists are only tapped when there are available projects, not only forces scientists to work abroad where they will be given regular positions, but also discourages them to work for national development.
“In project-based ventures, researchers are compelled to either haggle for extensions or submit a new project proposal in order to retain their positions once the project’s termination date arrives. Integrating the projects into relevant agencies will ensure the welfare of the scientists involved in it,” said Cosico.
The group questioned why institutionalization was not done during the early phases of the project, considering that research projects have definite start and end dates.
“We have to ensure that the vital service that Project NOAH provides will not be terminated. We call for the institutionalization of Project NOAH and all its component projects under relevant agencies to ensure the continuation of their service,” Cosico ended.