Lack of geologists hampers climate change adaptation projects, says government

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Monday, March 26, 2012

MANILA -- Scholarship grants for geosciences courses have been increased this year by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) following a decline in the number of state geologists needed in mapping hazard-prone areas.

Environment Secretary Ramon Paje issued the directive to the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) in an effort to encourage incoming college freshmen to take up geosciences courses to beef up the country's geologists, including mining and metallurgical engineers.

Paje attributed the decline of these professionals in the DENR to the government's rationalization program that resulted in freeze hiring and recruitment in the private sector or abroad which offer bigger salaries.
In fact, the number of positions that has yet to be filled is around 120 as opposed to the 88 geologists currently working for MGB.

“The number of geologists who chose to stay and work with us is barely enough to handle the increasing work load particularly on geo-hazard mapping and assessment which has become a necessity due to climate change,” Paje said.

Among other things, geo-hazard maps contain information as to the level of susceptibility of areas to flooding and landslide, including areas that could possibly be used as relocation or evacuation sites, in case of calamities.

At present, there are 12 MGB scholars studying geology, mining engineering and metallurgical engineering in only four universities in the country offering such courses.

These are the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City; Adamson University and Mapua University in Manila; Cebu Institute of Technology in Cebu City and University of Southeastern Philippines in Davao City.

Aside from graduating high school students, Paje said the scholarship program is also open to current college students and qualified DENR personnel who wish to pursue a career in geosciences.

The MGB scholarship, which may be inquired at its central office in Quezon City, covers free tuition, monthly stipend of P3,000, and book allowance. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)

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