It is a bad news for the weather community and weather enthusiasts in the disaster-prone Philippines, and also to the whole country.
Project NOAH will cease operating at the end of February, as confirmed by Executive Director Mahar Lagmay. He declined to give further details.
Project NOAH was created in 2012 in response of the initiative of former President Benigno “Noynoy” S. Aquino III to provide “a more accurate, integrated, and responsive disaster prevention and mitigation system, especially in high-risk areas” throughout the country.
Prior to that a slew of weak tropical cyclones has passed through the country, on which despite of their seemingly negligible strength had brought in torrential rains, causing deaths exceeding thousands each and widespread destruction.
As stated on its website, NOAH’s mission is “to undertake disaster science research and development, advance the use of cutting edge technologies, and recommend innovative information services in government’s disaster prevention and mitigation efforts.”
Project NOAH also helps the local government units (LGUs) as well as the common public in disaster preparedness and mitigation, by providing social media updates to compliment what’s already on their interactive website.
It has been noted that the 2017 General Appropriations Act has removed some PhP9 billion pesos for the National Risk Reduction and Management Fund or Calamity Fund, but it is still unknown if this is connected to the impending closure of the program.
The government is still yet to explain the impending closure of the program. It is also to note that the state weather agency PAGASA (Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration) is also running an interactive map similar to that in Project NOAH in meteopilipinas.gov.ph.
Meanwhile, some people have heightened their skepticism whether the current Administration is willing to fund the replacement of doppler radar systems destroyed or damaged during the past typhoons, such as those in Baler, Basco and the (slightly damaged) Virac equipments.