MASTER’S THESIS: “Fair Impact-based Forecasting in Manila Bay, Philippines: Integration of the information needs of disaster managers into fair impact-based forecasting to improve emergency management”


Irene’s research was part of the Forecast-Based Financing projects at 510. Her thesis aimed to develop an impact-based forecasting prototype that could help disaster managers efficiently and effectively understand and act on disaster risk. To do this, Irene assessed the information needs of disaster managers, the output and presentation of that information, and potential system usability. Manila Bay in the Philippines was used as a case study for this thesis, with the Philippines Red Cross as expected users of the prototype.


Irene Benito Lazaro is a civil engineer from Spain. She wrote this thesis as part of her Master in Civil Engineering, Water Management track at TU Delft. She holds a Bachelor from Polytechnic University of Catalonia, which included a year of study at Nottingham Trent University in the UK and a six-month research project at University of California-Irvine in the US.


The Philippines has an average of twenty typhoons per year, which can have disastrous effects. Traditionally, weather forecasts have predicted the physical traits of typhoons and prompted early action to reduce the level of damage caused. However, meteorological knowledge of a typhoon does not always translate into knowledge of its impact, and typhoons continue to cause major damage to coastal areas. For this reason, disaster managers are more interested in forecasting the impact of typhoons and other natural disasters so they can better prepare for and mitigate their consequences.

Irene’s research aims to help in operationalising such a so-called impact-based forecast. To make these forecasts more functional, it is essential to understand what their users’ needs are. Because disaster managers work under stressful conditions, it is crucial for them to have the right information in order to take effective actions. In addition to accuracy, data must provide information about the vulnerability of affected areas so disaster managers can prioritise fairly.


Irene’s thesis was a collaboration between 510 and Deltares, an independent research institute in the field of water and subsurface. At Deltares, she worked on the development of the forecasting system itself; at 510, she worked directly with disasters managers and obtained vulnerability data to link to the prototype. Irene ensured that the information and display needs of disaster managers were accounted for in the prototype by conducting interviews with disaster managers at various Red Cross national societies. She validated the prototype with representatives of the Philippines Red Cross in Manila and incorporated their feedback into the forecasting system. While in Manila, Irene also attended the 3rdAsia Pacific Dialogue Platform on Forecast-based Financing, where she learned more about disaster management and presented her prototype to disaster managers.


The findings of this study suggest that an impact-based forecasting system for Manila Bay should provide information on the affected population, livelihoods, hospitals, roads, and schools as this information is most important for disaster managers at local scale. The output of the forecasting system should provide actionable results that allow disaster managers to make quick and relevant decisions. Furthermore, the data displayed in the system should be simple, localised, and colour-coded to allow for quick interpretation of the results. (Please note the traffic light colours below have yet to be tested and the iconography to be aligned with humanitarian iconography)  Information about vulnerability is key as this is important to disaster managers when prioritising action areas. 510 and Deltares plan to obtain more detailed vulnerability and geographical data to make more detailed and localised forecasts.

An Interactive dashboard prototype to help disaster managers navigate more easily through the forecasting system and quickly obtain relevant information. (Please note the traffic light colours below have yet to be tested and the iconography to be aligned with humanitarian iconography)

An impact map of affected hospitals in Metro Manila. Each dot indicates a hospital, and the colour code indicates the range of number of beds affected by the typhoon.

Written by Elise Garton

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