Earth Science Week 2012 – working with NGOs

We’re returning to the Philippines for our fourth career blog, where scientists recognising the social impact of their work is more important than ever…

Dr Carlos Primo C David, Geologist at the University of the Philippines, National Institute of Geological Sciences (UP NIGS)

Carlos says: “I’ve always been curious about the environment that surrounds us and that led me to study Geology at the University of the Philippines. I then went on to gain a PhD from Stanford University, and later became an associate scientist for the US Geological Survey.

“I was drawn to the Earth sciences because they deal directly with real-world problems like natural hazards, something we in the Philippines know much about. They provide a solid understanding of the relationships between land, vegetation, man-made structures, and the weather. This understanding can help us make decisions which will reduce the impact of future disasters.

“Now I work as a hydrologist, running rain and flood models at the National Institute of Geological Sciences in Manila. It’s important work in a country where intense typhoon and monsoon seasons cause extensive annual flooding, and, all too often, loss of life.

“In the past I must admit that I didn’t really consider the social impacts of my work; I was just concerned that my models were running and made accurate predictions. But today it’s a big part of my job.

Commuters wade through waist-deep floodwaters following heavy rains brought about by tropical storm Ketsana (locally known as Ondoy) Saturday Sept. 26, 2009 in Manila, Philippines.











“For a few years now I have been working with the NGO sector, with charities like Christian Aid, who provide opportunities for scientists, like me, to interact with the people who are directly affected by the work we do.

“It’s been a real eye opener to work with vulnerable communities, who have nowhere else to build their homes but on floodplains. My work helps them to understand their geological environment better, and to use this knowledge to prepare for future disasters.
These communities now know how to predict when the river is likely to flood, what escape routes to take, and how to evacuate safely.

“This work has also inspired my colleagues and I to develop Project NOAH, a simple communication tool which aims – through the internet and text message – to provide real-time weather and flood information to the Filipino public. In the future I hope it will be able to warn people, like those living along riverbanks, up to six hours ahead of an impending disaster.

“But there is still a huge amount of work to be done, which is why we need more people than ever to study Earth sciences, helping scientists like me to find real solutions to the most important problems we face.”

Dr Carlos Primo C David features in Christian Aid’s new interactive documentary ‘Big River Rising’, which explores how Manila’s riverside slum dwelling community is using science to fight flooding.

One thought on “Earth Science Week 2012 – working with NGOs

  1. Every second matters.Everyone must always be alert on natural desaster like flood.Also, there are lots of experts that could help people to be knowledgable about what exactly is the importance of flood protection system to reduce the damage by flooding. To get to know more visit this link Oversvø

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