Dito kami magsisimulang muli, sama-sama.” (This is where we will rebuild our lives, together).

This is how Norjannah Amerol, 46 described the permanent house and lot she was awarded on October 15, 2021. To her, the new home is an opportunity to rebuild part of what was lost – not only their houses but their community as well, in the 5-month Marawi Siege four years ago.

She recalled how she feared for the lives of her two sons who chose to stay behind to take care of the family’s belongings thinking that the gunfight will last for only two to three days and that the whole family can re-group after. One of her sons was hit on the leg by a bullet as he and his brother made their way to the boat by the lake that will bring them to safety.

She remarked, “Ang bahay na ito ay isang biyaya, isang simbolo na kung ang isang tao ay matiyagang maghintay ay bibiyayayan ni Allah. Apat na taon! Kahit na ano mang hirap ang naranasan namin, ang lahat ng yun ay naibsan sa pamamagitan ng bahay na ito – hindi ko hahayaang magkahiwa-hiwalay pa kami ng mga anak ko – ang takot bilang isang ina, ayaw ko na muling maranasan ang ganun.”  (This house is a blessing, a symbol that if a person patiently waits Allah will provide His blessings. Four years! Whatever hardships my family went through, those assuaged by this house – I will not let my children be separated from me again – that kind of fear as a mother is something that I do not want to experience again. This is where we will rebuild our lives, together.)


Amerol is among the two hundred fifty families displaced by the 2017 Marawi Siege who were awarded with permanent house and lot  from the National Housing Authority (NHA) and the Rebuilding Marawi Project of the UN-Habitat during the turnover ceremonies in Pamayandeg Ranao Residences at Dansalan in Barangay Mipantao-Gadongan in the Islamic City of Marawi. The event was attended by Secretary Eduardo D. del Rosario of the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD), Engr. Marcelino P. Escalada Jr., General Manager, NHA, Governor Mamintal Alonto-Adiong, Jr. of the Province of Lanao del Sur, Mayor Majul U. Gandamra of Marawi City, Project Manager Warren C. Ubongen of UN-Habitat and Acting Regional Manager Engr. Clemente Dayot of NHA.


Of the 250 permanent houses, 150 were built by UN-Habitat’s Rebuilding Marawi through Community-Driven Shelter and Livelihood Project with a USD 10-million funding from the Government of Japan while 100 houses were built by the NHA. The wide expanse of Pamayandeg Ranaw Residences at Dansalan is located in Barangays Kilala and Mipantao-Gadongan. The land was procured and developed by NHA. A total of 1,800 permanent houses are expected to be built at this site with 1, 500 units to be constructed by NHA  while 300 units by UN-Habitat.

Pre-siege, the 250 families lived within the three to six meters easement along the Agus River and Lake Lanao – areas officially categorized by the government as ‘no dwell zone’ and and others that were affected by the development projects within the post-war Ground Zero/Most Affected Area (MAA). With their houses destroyed by the gun battle between the government forces and pro-Isis militants, life for the 250 families in the past four years since the war ended was spent in tents, transitory shelters, in home-based arrangement (living with relatives or with friends or renting) within Marawi or in nearby provinces while others went as far as Manila to eke out a living as the war destroyed not only their homes but devastated their businesses as well.


In a message from Koshikawa Kazuhiko, Ambassador of Japan to the Republic of the Philippines, read during the event:

“…We have been steadily making progress despite the significant challenges posed by this COVID-19 pandemic. This year, a total of 329 houses have been turned over so far in Barangay Dulay West, Darussalam Village, Pamayandeg sa Ranaw Residence, and Barangay Kilala. We, the Embassy of Japan, genuinely hope that, before the end of the year, we will be able to provide more families with safe places that they can once again call “home.”… Our work in Marawi is not yet finished. We will continue to strive to build more houses for displaced families. We sincerely hope that through this Project and other J-BIRD projects, together with Japan’s steadfast support for the Mindanao Peace Process, Mindanao will gain lasting peace and stability for the benefit of everyone.”


UN-Habitat Country Programme Manager, Christopher Rollo, said that, “The 250 families receiving the houses and lots today join the other 279 families previously awarded with permanent house and lot in three other resettlement sites. We are inspired to work with our government partners and home owners associations in rebuilding lives and communities as we mark the fourth year since the end of the Marawi siege.”


For his part, Engr. Dayot remarked that, “It has been four years since the liberation of the Islamic City of Marawi from the terrorist group. The National Housing Authority, through the leadership of our General Manager, Marcelino P. Escalada, Jr., and the guidance of no less than His Excellency President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, will be turning over permanent housing units to qualified beneficiaries. This long awaited turnover is now becoming a reality and we hope that this small gesture will lift the standard of living, and be the start of a brighter future for all recipients, in particular, and the Islamic City of Marawi, in general.”

The turn-over of 150 permanent houses constructed by UN-Habitat brings to a total of  429 houses provided to displaced families. These families are now living in their new communities:  Marawi Resettlement Site (MRS Phase 1) Phase 1: Hadiya Village, Brgy. Dulay West, with 109 permanent houses inaugurated in February 25, 2021 and 120 in MRS Phase II:  Darussalam Village, Brgy. Dulay Proper inaugurated in July 22, 2021, both on land procured and developed by the Social Housing Finance Corporation (SHFC). Fifty permanent houses were also turned over to 50 displaced families last July 22, 2021 in Pamayandeg Ranao Residences at Dansalan in Brgy. Mipantao-Gadongan, in partnership with NHA.  Currently, 100 more houses are being constructed by UN-Habitat in the Barangay Kilala side of this resettlement site. Another resettlement site with ongoing shelter construction by UN-Habitat is the MRS Phase III (SHFC) in Barangay Patani where 372 houses are targeted to be built.   A total of 910 permanent houses by UN-Habitat are slated to be completed by December 2021 in these five resettlement sites.

Urban actors from the Philippines shared some of the country’s city climate solutions at the Innovate4Cities (I4C) held on October 11-15, 2021. The virtual global event brought together science and innovation, policy and practice united by a common objective: enabling cities to take accelerated and more ambitious climate action. I4C was a follow up to the 2018 Edmonton Cities and Climate Change Science Conference, where the scientific community gathered for the first time and recognized the role of cities in climate action. It was also a lead-up to the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) happening on November 2021.

Representatives from the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD), Technical Assistance Movement for People and Environment, Inc. (TAMPEI), and UN-Habitat joined practitioners, researchers, policymakers, the private sector, and other urban innovators from across the globe to share knowledge and insights on the Philippine experience in building climate-resilient cities.

In the plenary session, “Adaptation and Resilience as Integrated Approaches to Tackling Climate Change,” Undersecretary Marylin Pintor of DHSUD provided the Philippine context and highlighted the need for systems approach in building resilience of cities through the guidance of the national government.

She also shared the agency’s key lessons learned in promoting climate-resilient urban settlements which include the need to improve climate science for evidence-based policy development, unlock climate finance, integrate climate targets with expected economic rebound through green recovery, and provide incentives for local governments.


In the parallel session “Policy Integration and Mainstreaming for Multi-Level Governance”, Roland Dane Carreon of DHSUD presented “The Role of National Government in Resilience Building through Local Climate-Resilient Urban Plans and Designs.”

Carreon shared DHSUD’s roadmap of city resilience building from risk-based planning and design, project structuring, policy development, and financing which has been implemented in the agency’s with local governments in their respective spatial and sectoral plans.


In another parallel session, titled “Planning for Resilience in Vulnerable Communities in the Philippines”, Aiah Santos of TAMPEI and Bhen Aguihon of UN-Habitat focused on pandemic impacts and recovery. Santos presented the results of their Adaptive Capacities Research which painted a picture of Philippine communities’ different conditions, existing coping mechanisms and the opportunities to co-create possible solutions with communities.

Aguihon presented “Understanding COVID-19 Impacts and Approaches to Resilient and Green Recovery: The Case of Ormoc City” highlighting Ormoc City’s efforts in addressing the combined risks of climate change and pandemic to propel socio-economic recovery following a resilient and green development framework and trajectory as seen in their redesign of the built environment.

The presentations drew from the experience and support of the Building Climate Resiliency through Urban Plans and Designs, a project jointly implemented by DHSUD and UN-Habitat Philippines.


Innovate4Cities is organized by UN-Habitat and the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy (GCoM). To know more about the conference or session replays, visit https://www.innovate4cities.org/.

The conference coincides with Urban October. For more information on local events, click here, or visit the global Urban October website here.


Strengthening efforts for building back better, the cities of Ormoc and Tagum initiated a series of resilient and green recovery (RGR) planning workshops and mentoring sessions geared towards addressing the issues faced by the urban poor and other vulnerable groups amid the pandemic crisis and threats brought by climate change.

Results of a survey conducted in the cities of Ormoc and Tagum showed that during the pandemic, the urban poor faced increased difficulties in providing food for their families, availing health services, securing livelihood, and ensuring safe housing conditions.

This is based on the results of UN-Habitat Philippines’ rapid research on the impacts of COVID-19 on the urban poor conducted in early 2021 in the two cities. The research was conducted through the Building Climate Resiliency through Urban Plans and Designs (BCRUPD) project in partnership with the Technical Assistance Movement for People and Environment Inc. (TAMPEI).

Eighty six individuals from five barangays in Tagum, and 53 individuals from five barangays in Ormoc participated in the survey.


Lost jobs, debts, and lack of space

According to the survey results for Tagum City, 75% of the respondents have taken loans since the start of the pandemic mostly because of the need to provide food for their families, leading to even more debts acquired pre-COVID.

More than 81% of the urban poor respondents in Ormoc City lost their jobs during the pandemic, making most of them incur debts for food purchases.

In both cities, lack of adequate ventilation and space for isolation are the top difficulties faced by the respondents in case a family member contracts COVID-19.

More than 85% of the respondents highlighted the importance of public open spaces during a pandemic but accessing these areas have become more difficult due to mobility and community quarantine restrictions.


Green recovery and public open spaces

Considering the data gathered, Tagum City partnered with the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) and BCRUPD in equipping the city offices for crafting inputs to the LGU’s investment plans responsive to the needs of the vulnerable groups in their locality.

The capital city of Davao Del Norte began a series of RGR planning workshops on  where technical inputs on policies related to urban development and human settlements were given by various national government agencies including the Climate Change Commission, Department of Health, National Economic Development Authority, and Department of the Interior and Local Government.

Ormoc City, meanwhile, launched a series of RGR mentoring sessions on urban design projects, aiming to map out programs that can address urban poor issues identified in the survey, including importance of public open spaces, lack of space for isolation, and loss of jobs.

The mentoring activities facilitated by BCRUPD focuses on developing strategies and projects in open and public spaces that exhibit resilient and green approaches in urban design.

Three more sessions centered on public and open spaces are spread out until November tackling specific aspects on planning skills and strategies, financing and resource mobilization, monitoring and evaluation, and database development.

DHSUD, in its efforts to aid more areas in the country, aims to replicate the activities in Ormoc and Tagum to other cities and municipalities for facilitating resilient and green recovery.


BCRUPD is a capacity building project funded by the German government’s International Climate Initiative (IKI) and is being implemented UN-Habitat in partnership with Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development, Climate Change Commission, Department of the Interior and Local Government, National Economic and Development Authority, and League of Cities of the Philippines.

Article originally published on the BCRUPD website.

UN-Habitat Philippines joins countries, cities, and towns across the globe in celebrating World Habitat Day on October 4, 2021, with the event “Race to Zero PH: Reflecting Waste as Resource in the Wrong Place at the Wrong Time.”

Anchored on the global theme, “accelerating urban action in a carbon-free world,” the national event gathered experts to talk about the climate change mitigation contributions of the waste sector.

The virtual event, which amplifies the global #RacetoZero campaign in the run up to COP 26 happening on November 2021, kicked off with global messages from the United Nations Secretary General António Gutteres and UN-Habitat Executive Director Mainmunah Mohd Sharif who both stressed the transformative potential of sustainable urban action and the role that cities play in achieving a carbon-neutral planet.

Representing the national government, Atty. Jonas Leones, Undersecretary for Policy, Planning and International Affairs, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), opened the discussion by sharing how the Philippines has been an active player in international discourse on climate change and waste management.

“The Philippines has always led efforts to adapt to the impacts of anthropogenically driven climate change while at the same time identifying climate-smart strategies to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in line with its sustainable development agenda and national policies and programs.”


Minister Masahiro Nakata, Economic Affairs Minister of the Embassy of Japan shared the environmental programs in the Philippines supported by the Government of Japan.

“Our response to address waste, climate change, and loss of biodiversity must not stop, this is an urgent issue that must be tackled for the future of humankind and other lives on earth. Japan will continue to lead the world in responding to these global challenges, but what’s essential is cooperation with each country and we would be happy if we could strengthen cooperation with the Philippines.”


Climate Change Mitigation in the Waste Management Sector

A series of technical presentations on the landscape of climate change mitigation in the Philippines and how it intersects with waste management opened the first moderated discussion.

Sandee G. Recabar, Head of the Implementation Oversight Division of the Climate Change Commission, presented the national greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory of the Philippines, focusing on the contributions of the waste sector. Delia M. Valdez, OIC-Chief of the Solid Waste Management Division, Environmental Management Bureau of DENR, elaborated on the five mitigation options for the municipal solid waste management (SWM) and their related policies. Elenida dR. Basug, Director of the Climate Change Service, DENR, stressed that proper solid waste management contributes to climate change adaptation and community resilience. Dr. Rajeev Kumar Singh, Sustainable Consumption and Production Researcher of the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES), explained the life-cycle assessment of emissions from short-lived climate pollutants, which are powerful climate agents that have more warming potential than CO2, and how proper municipal SWM can greatly contribute to reducing them.


Actions on the ground

The second discussion featured different initiatives of the local government, socio-civic groups, and private sector that support climate change mitigation in the waste sector. Kohei Hibino, Programme Manager and Deputy Director of Kitakyushu Urban Centre, IGES, opened with a presentation on norms-based community behavior change. Providing the experience of local government units, Mayor Noel Rosal of Legazpi City shared their city’s actions and early wins on GHG Management through the application of sustainable environmental management technologies and approaches. Anna Oposa, Executive Director and Chief Mermaid of Save Philippine Seas walked through their organization’s successful campaigns and how they effectively engaged with various stakeholders. Lastly, sharing the private sector initiatives on climate change mitigation, Commissioner Crispian Lao, Founding President of the Philippine Alliance for Recycling and Materials Recovery (PARMS), highlighted the need for food waste reduction and management.


Opportunities ahead

Both sessions closed with a discussion of the resource speakers which raised the following key points:

  • Composting, reduction of food waste, and control of open-burning are some of the low-hanging, low-investment actions that can be done in the waste sector to reduce GHG emissions;
  • Research and development opportunities such as emission estimates of the waste sector, cost estimates of the mitigation options, and further research for policy recommendations can be explored;
  • Educating consumers and households to make proper choices is important but this should be supported with,
  • A whole-of-society approach mobilizing all stakeholders is needed to accelerate climate actions.

The event closed with the call to action for the Zero Waste to Nature 2030, a strategy and roadmap developed by PARMS which commits to initiate and support efforts to manage plastic and packaging waste and reduce the country’s waste footprint.

The event also launched #KwentongClimate, a video series that focuses on individuals from all walks of life engaging in the climate conversation.

Race to Zero PH is the first of the exciting line up of activities for Urban October in the Philippines. For more information on local events, click here, or visit the global Urban October website here.