On Sahana: Philippines clears up after storm

I just saw the following article mentioned on the Google News page: Philippines clears up after storm. It says:

A massive clean-up is under way in the Philippines after the latest typhoon, which has left at least 30 dead.

Typhoon Xangsane, packing winds of up to 130km/h (80 mph), pounded central and northern Philippines.

Hundreds of homes have been destroyed, and floods have left many roads and bridges impassable. Dozens of people are still missing.

The typhoon was the strongest to hit the capital Manila in 11 years, weather officials said.

Government offices and schools in Manila remained closed on Friday as emergency crews worked to fix power lines and clear fallen debris.

The entire island of Luzon was without power during some parts of Thursday, but it has now been partially restored.

The storm is now reported to be heading for the Vietnamese beach resort of Danang, and is expected to hit on Saturday afternoon.


Typhoon Xangsane was “one of the worst devastations that Manila has experienced,” the city’s Mayor, Lito Atienza, told local radio on Friday.

President Gloria Arroyo held an emergency meeting with energy and civil defence officials, and ordered a speedy restoration of basic services.
ome of those killed included a man who fell into a river in central Antique province, and a man hit by a falling tree in Albay province.

Many other people are missing in the town of General Trias town, where an irrigation dyke collapsed, a local official told the Associated Press news agency.

More than 60,000 people have reportedly been affected by the aftermath of the typhoon – landslides, floods and wind damage to agriculture and infrastructure.

“We have a lot of debris on the streets. We are also having difficulty in restoring power,” Defence Secretary Avelino Cruz told French news agency AFP.

Thirty dead and counting. The toll will go up, as will the number of people who survive who will need assistance to put their lives and their communities together.

The moment that storm struck marked the formation of a global multinational organization consisting of relief workers, unpaid volunteers, military forces, the United Nations, and of course many other groups. They have already started assembling resources: food, tents, medical supplies, radios, cell phones, computers, and many other technologies.

An essential part of their toolkit will by the internet itself. That is how I learned about the storm, how many others learned about it, and it will a key communication tool going forward.

Among the technologies that will be brought to bear are the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), that include software as a core component.

Whenever such disasters strike, as a member of the Open Source community, I and all my fellow members should ask ourselves the following questions. We need to come up with answers, as not only should we ask these question of ourselves, but the world is asking them as well:

Is Open Source Technology (OST) being used? If so, what OST? And after this disaster, knowing there are others in the future that will inevitably put all of us in harm’s way, we will need to analyze how things went and determine if we can do a better job next time around. And realizing we can use OST not just for disaster relief, what can we do to assist in other kinds of relief, in education, and in any effort that can improve the world?

There is one such project I know of that will soon be deployed in the Phillipines. It is called Sahana. I have written of it in the past and will continue to do so in the future.

But where are the others? When will they be written? Who will write them? Can we in the open-source community help?

I know this blog can be confusing to read, especially the parts about nits, twits, and nitwits. But addressing this issue is the one problem that is at the core of all these posts, the question I plan to work on for the forseeable future:

How can we enlist and organize volunteers with open-source skills to volunteer those skills to make the world a better place?

Copyright (c) 2006 by David Shields. Licensed under the Apache License 2.0.

One Comment

  1. Posted October 2, 2006 at 08:33 | Permalink | Reply

    Sahana was developed in Sri Lanka as a direct result of the December tsunami. The Sri Lankan open sourcerers are among the most dedicated and enthusiastic I have even encountered.

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