In the Philippines, the present environmental and social conditions in informal settlements are alarming. Overcrowding, inadequate access to basic services, insecure tenure and increased risks to public health are among the many issues. The lack of tenure itself delays connection to municipal infrastructure services, leading to suppressed property values, underutilized capital assets, poor living conditions, and high incidence of illness.
There are an estimated 1.5 million informal settler households nationwide, with 51 per cent of these families living in danger areas. Hence, improving access to affordable shelter and formal land tenure will enhance the living conditions in informal settlements and contribute immensely to the goal of poverty eradication.
UN-Habitat Philippines’ shelter projects incorporate a community-driven approach called the People’s Process. The process is hinged on self-recovery of shelter and community facilities by strengthening the community’s technical and institutional capacities. Another goal is to advocate and promote the concept of building back safer for shelter and community facilities.
Under the People’s Process, the community leads and manages projects with technical assistance and monitoring of UN-Habitat. Projects are implemented through community contracting with legitimate homeowners’ associations.
Such an approach has been successfully implemented in other countries, notably in Indonesia, the Maldives, and Sri Lanka after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. The People’s Process improves the general skill level of community members and enables them to showcase their own creativity and ingenuity as active actors in their own rehabilitation, instilling in them a sense of pride and dignity.
It establishes trust and promotes a sense of ownership on the part of the community. UN-Habitat also collaborates with a number of partners both governmental and non-governmental in enabling communities to become disaster-resilient.
It is vital to work with local actors so that the communities may continue to keep strong and sustainable relationships with local partners even after UN-Habitat‘s technical support and presence under the project end.
Post-Yolanda Support for Safer Homes and Settlements Project
UN-Habitat has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Social Housing Finance Corporation (SHFC) to continue to advocate for community-driven approaches in their shelter responses in Palawan, Tacloban City, Leyte, and other Yolanda-hit communities which will undergo Post-Yolanda recovery program.
Aside from building houses, SHFC and UN Habitat will also implement capacity building programs that will equip the communities on resiliency and climate change adaptation.