Surigao City – The Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD), Government of Spain through the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID), UN-Habitat Philippines, Provincial Government of Surigao del Norte, City Government of Surigao, and Badjao community in Surigao City launched their partnership for the rehabilitation of the Badjao community affected by Typhoon Rai in 2021.
This is through the project Supporting Blue-Green Recovery, Strengthening Resilience, and Promoting Sustainable Growth in Philippine Cities and Communities through Nature-Based Solutions and Circular Economy, implemented by UN-Habitat Philippines and funded by AECID.
In an event held on August 11, 2023 in Surigao City, UN-Habitat Philippines Christopher Rollo, Surigao del Norte Governor Robert Lyndon Barbers as represented by Vice Governor Eddie Gokiangkee, Jr., Surigao City Mayor Pablo Yves Dumlao II, DHRUD Caraga Regional Director Christie Reyes, and Badjao Tribal Council Vice Chairman Ronald Bastiong signed the partnership and officially launched the project.
Vice Gorvernor Gokiangkee emphasized that the project will be implemented in such a way that no livelihood displacement and hostility towards the Badjao culture will happen, expressing the government’s respect for the tribe’s way of life.
“The Badjao communities will not just be beneficiaries but will be our partners in protecting the environment and progress of our province,” Gokiangkee said as he ascertained Surigao Del Norte’s efforts to strengthen the resilience of the tribal group.
Meanwhile, Surigao City Mayor Dumlao that he is coordinating with other government offices to enhance support for the Badjaos.
“Just to highlight our plans for this community, we would also like to make it a cultural village. In coordination with DepEd and the Office of the Vice President, we will immediately put up a school for the Badjaos,” said Dumlao
The Head of Spanish Cooperation in the Philippines Violeta Dominguez also delivered a video message affirming the Spanish Embassy’s support for the Surigao initiative.
For DHSUD Caraga Regional Director Reyes, the project will be a product effective collaboration, citing previous partnerships with UN-Habitat like the Rebuilding Marawi Shelter and Livelihood Project.
“What we see is that this project will become a showcase of an effective convergence project among local and provincial government, regional line agencies, NGOs, our development partners, and also the community,” mentioned Reyes.
More than rebuilding homes
The project aims to strengthen capacities of government to provide support to vulnerable populations displaced by natural disasters.
Alternately called Huy-anan nan Badjao sa Surigao (Home for Badjaos in Surigao), the project aims to improve the living conditions of Badjao families who remain internally displaced nearly two years after the disaster. Badjaos, nomadic sea-based indigenous people (IP) of Mindanao, were among the most vulnerable groups impacted by Typhoon Rai which affected an estimate of 16 million people and damaged over two million houses.
While traditional reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts prioritize building back communities as quickly as possible, Huy-anan nan Badjao sa Surigao taps into opportunities to apply resilient design solutions based on nature, provide open public spaces, integrate circular economy approaches, and incorporate culturally-sensitive design in the rebuilding process. The project also builds on UN-Habitat’s solid experience on solid experience in post-disaster and post-conflict resettlement using the People’s Process, climate resilient urban planning and design, and resource management.
“Beyond disaster response, we want to showcase innovation and sustainable solutions,” said UN-Habitat Country Programme Manager Rollo while expressing confidence that through the efforts of all stakeholders, the project can achieve something innovative that the whole country can learn from.
Badjao Tribal Community leader Ronald Bastiong expressed gratitude for UN-Habitat and the local government for responding to the needs of their community.
“If you can just visit our houses in our community, you will witness that they are made of nipas and bamboos. The walls of our houses are covered with used clothes in order for us to have protection from the sun at daytime and from the cold at nighttime,” said Bastiong describing the vulnerable state of their tribe.
Bastiong then added that the completion of the project will allow them to live better and more secured.
Other intended outputs of the project are developing technical capacities of government staff in applying nature-based solutions and circular economy models, establishing public open space, building materials recovery facilities and promoting Rethink, Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle (5Rs) actions, engaging women and IPs in sustainable livelihood, and supporting communities in facilities managements. The project will run from 2023 until 2024.
For more information on the project, contact Warren Ubongen at firstname.lastname@example.org