The Filipino government's bid to encourage the use of social media as a disaster warning tool was tested once again in weeks of flooding that have affected more than 260,000 families nationwide, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).
Since 1 January, storms have destroyed more than 1,000 homes in 25 provinces and led to 42 reported deaths by drowning, landslides and electrocution, according to NDRRMC.
Even during storms, the government hopes people will still log on for weather updates.
"Internet media can be used to create awareness in people before the onset of the disaster. It is a part of emergency preparedness because families can then create contingency plans to evacuate to shelters, and to stay together," said Chito Castro, a media officer with NDRRMC.
During the latest floods, some 131,580 people have used the Philippines Information Agency Weather Watch website to receive flood updates.
The site received 94,412 hits alone on 14 January.
The government's Weather Watch Facebook site issues hourly updates on road, sea and town situations, warning people about collapsed roads, incoming monsoons, cold fronts, and dangerous sea conditions for fishermen.
Facebook members are free to upload photos and comment on the site, which has 289 followers. One dismayed user posted "[When] will it stop !!!!!" in response to a forecast of continued rain.
The Philippines ranks fifth in the world for the most Facebook users, with 20,802,540 members - 23 percent of the population per 2009 World Bank figures - according to Facebook.
The internet is most widely used by Filipinos between the ages of 18 and 30 and is one of the country's fastest growing industries, according to the UN's Asia-Pacific Development Information Program (APDIP).
But using the internet for early warning has its limits as most of the country's internet users are based in Manila, which has not experienced the worst of the flooding. In the most recent tally of internet users from five years ago, APDIP calculated 4.5 million internet users, with two-thirds in the upper and middle socio-economic classes.
And for those off the network?
"For parts of the country that have not gone high-tech, [early warning] advisories are broadcasted over radio and television," said Castro.
This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions
It was The New Humanitarian’s investigation with the Thomson Reuters Foundation that uncovered sexual abuse by aid workers during the Ebola response in the Democratic Republic of Congo and led the World Health Organization to launch an independent review and reform its practices.
This demonstrates the important impact that our journalism can have.
But this won’t be the last case of aid worker sex abuse. This also won’t be the last time the aid sector has to ask itself difficult questions about why justice for victims of sexual abuse and exploitation has been sorely lacking.
We’re already working on our next investigation, but reporting like this takes months, sometimes years, and can’t be done alone.
The support of our readers and donors helps keep our journalism free and accessible for all. Donations mean we can keep holding power in the aid sector accountable, and shine a light on similar abuses.