The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the provincial government of Albay in Bicol region have teamed up to reduce and manage disaster risks in this calamity-prone province.

In simple ceremonies held recently at the DENR office in Quezon City, Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje and Regional Executive Director for Bicol Joselin Marcus Fragada signed a deed donating a confiscated six-wheeler Fuso truck loaded with lumber materials to the 3rd District of Albay. The donation was accepted by Albay Governor Jose Maria Clemente Salceda and Albay 3rd District Representative Fernando Gonzales.

The cargo, consisting of about 5,000 board feet of Lauan lumber of different dimensions, are to be used in the repair of damaged property caused by tropical storm Juaning, which hit the area in July of this year. The truck would also be used by the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (PDRRMC) for disaster relief, as well as evacuation of families located in identified hazardous areas.

In the same event, both parties also signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) for the assessment of landslide and flood hazard risks of 18 municipalities in Albay. The project, entitled “GIS-based Landslide and Vulnerability Assessment of the Province of Albay”, includes the densification of the province’s geohazard map on a scale of 1:10,000 by the DENR’s Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB).

“The donation, though small in comparison to the magnitude of disasters that face the province, can immediately help in recovery efforts. Meanwhile, the assessment project will be piloted in Albay as a laboratory of disaster preparedness,” said Paje, who also hails from Albay.

The DENR-MGB has completed the geohazard mapping of all municipalities in the country on a 1:50,000 scale. The Albay project, however, which includes the development of flood and landslide hazard models for the province’s most vulnerable areas, will enable the province to plan for disaster risk reduction down to the barangay level.

The project also covers information dissemination on landslide and flood hazards and the installation of warning systems in highly vulnerable areas.

Salceda expressed gratitude for the donation and the MOA, which he said “respects the dignity of persons… and will reduce risks from climate change and geohazards, especially in our province which experiences a cocktail of disasters.”

The governor also said that the maps will be “used for response and reconstruction,” and that to avoid human casualties, “all evacuation sites will be cleared by the MGB.”