Project NOAH open to being funded by other government agencies, private sector

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Project NOAH can still be saved, as long as it finds interested parties to support it now that it has no budget of its own, project director Dr. Mahar Lagmay said on Wednesday.

"Now we're open to anybody who wants to (adopt us)," Lagmay told The Source. "(We're open to) any group or agency or private group who wants us to operate."

The agreement was struck between Lagmay and Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Fortunato Dela Peña during a visit to Malacañang on Tuesday, said Lagmay.

"I said, 'Is it okay if we get funded by other agencies or groups?' He said, 'Okay, as many as you want,'" he said.

Project NOAH (Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards), which was founded in 2011 under the DOST, handles several projects on disaster preparedness and mitigation. There are 19 pending projects under the program.

Its website makes accessible weather maps in real time and is a source of information of government agencies and hazard experts, especially during emergencies.

Lagmay previously announced the project would officially close on February 28 due to a lack of budget.

Between 40 to 200 workers under Project NOAH stand to lose their jobs. Lagmay said he is concerned about them, adding that "human resource (is) more important than any technology we deliver."

Related: Project NOAH scientists crucial in disaster risk assessment – Lagmay

Project NOAH has also turned over its products and materials such as flood maps and a forecasting system to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration.

Lagmay said the data they produced should still be available to the public with or without Project NOAH.

 

Support for NOAH

Lagmay said several government agencies have expressed their support for the project, including the Department of Interior and Local Government, the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the Commission on Higher Education, and even the National Security Council.

"They said that all of these things that we do are critical for their operations. And they want us to continue," he added.

Department of Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol also came to Project NOAH's defense on Facebook, offering to adopt the program.

"The Department of Agriculture needs Project NOAH and I will do everything to save it," Piñol wrote. "Initially, I will talk to President Rody Duterte and ask him to allow the DA to take over Project NOAH."

 

Politically motivated?

Lagmay also said the move to no longer fund Project NOAH was not politically motivated.

"It has got nothing to do with political color," said Lagmay.

He reiterated Project NOAH is just a project that could be ended at any time.

Lagmay also said in a tweet there were plans to shut down Project NOAH even during the administration of former President Benigno Aquino III.

 

"Two years ago pa kami pinapatay," Lagmay wrote. "Iyong dating pumapatay ay sila pa rin iyon."

[Translation:There had been plans to dissolve us two years ago. Those who wanted us gone us are the same people doing it now.]

He added Project NOAH does not lean toward a political agenda.

"What we do is part of the issue of survival... that includes everybody," he said.