Monday, September 20, 2010

Communication project can serve multiple purposes other than disaster-related, proponents assert

Communication project can serve multiple purposes other than disaster-related, proponents assert 
By Bong Pedalino
PIA News Agency
September 20, 2010

Southern Leyte (20 September) -- How can anyone gauge the success of a disaster-oriented communication project if there will be no ?major, major? such kind of event occurring -- God forbid -- for the two-year implementation duration of the private sector-led initiative?

For the corporate giants who backstopped the undertaking, like Smart Communications, the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP), and the World Bank, the generous financier-institution that shelled out P 10 Million for this one, this concern is no big deal.

At a press conference held at the Governor?s Office here last week after formally launching the project dubbed ?Strengthening Disaster Preparedness of Southern Leyte using SMS technology?, the proponents counted the ways -- several ways, in fact, in which the high-tech activity can still be of good use sans happening of a tragedy, natural or man-made.

Ramon Isberto of Smart stressed that in its bare essentials, communication can have multi-purpose applications, in relaying messages that need urgent action for urgent public matters to be attended right at once in the field.

He specifically cited the public health issue now prevailing, the containment of the dreaded dengue disease, wherein the channels of open communication from various levels -- barangay, municipality, province -- is important as it spells life and death among those concerned.

Rafael Lopa, PBSP Executive Director, said that the calamity that happened in Guinsaugon four years ago served as a wake-up call, that people have been wanting in terms of preparation, and awareness that such occurrence can happen anytime, hence the need to be constantly ready and prepared.

Jazmin Gutierrez, another high-ranking PBSP worker, discussed one of the project?s targets, which is to integrate all the existing early warning systems now in place for the people?s heightened disaster preparedness, in addition to the latest using SMS, and once found as functional, then the purpose of the present project has been served.

Chis Pablo of the World Bank was most emphatic: the more important consideration is to see to it that the pilot project works, with or without a disaster, since this will be made as the basis for rolling-out to other countries, like Vietnam, which is almost always affected every time a storm passes the Philippines.

In other words, the process is as vital as the resulting product, the journey as critical as reaching the destination.

Indeed, not bad for a project that has been described as innovative, and had found its way to the Development Marketplace in Washington, DC, there eventually chosen as among the 24 winners out of 1,700 entries from around the world.