Thursday, June 02, 2011

WB hints expansion of SMS disaster preparedness project in So. Leyte

WB hints expansion of SMS disaster preparedness project in So. Leyte 
By Bong Pedalino
Philippine Information Agency
June 02, 2011

MAASIN CITY, Southern Leyte, June 2 (PIA) -- A high-ranking official of the World Bank (WB) was so impressed with the status of a WB-funded project on disaster preparedness using the SMS technology in this province that he hinted at expanding its coverage.

Christopher Pablo, Senior Operations Officer of the global financing institution who is on a two-day supervision mission in this province, said last night in a press conference at Kinamot sa Abgao here that he was “happy to see progress of the project,” adding that he was under the “impression the project works.”

The Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) for the project “Strengthening Disaster Preparedness of Southern Leyte thru SMS Technology,” in the amount of P 10 Million in coordination with Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) and Smart Communications, was signed with Gov. Damian Mercado in September, 2010 and is good for two years.

“We put emphasis on disaster preparedness and help local governments in disaster management. Hopefully we will expand,” Pablo said.

As it is, the project has been pilot-tested in nine municipalities and the city of Maasin, with five pilot barangays every local government unit.

The nine towns included Malitbog, Bontoc, Libagon, Liloan, San Francisco, Pintuyan, San Ricardo, Saint Bernard, and Hinunangan.

On June 2, Pablo and his party is scheduled to visit Malitbog to see an actual demonstration on how the communication system is applied on a simulated distress call from a cellular phone in a concerned barangay to the computer info board in the town and the province, the quick relay of information intended for fast action and response on the part of concerned authorities.

Also during Wednesday nights’s news conference, Leilani Briosos McDonough, PBSP Project Director, disclosed that the project was on track based on the pre-determined timeline, even as he admitted some setbacks in January where the system was not yet in place at the height of the torrential rains pounding the province then.

Darwin Flores, Senior Manager of Smart Communications, said his company has been trying to figure out a solution on cell signal in some isolated places, and assured measures have been duly considered so this will not pose a hindrance to the success of the high-tech project.