UN-Habitat Philippines is responsive to disasters impacting the country—be they in the form of extreme weather events and natural hazards, armed conflict, or, most recently, pandemics. As a part of the United Nations humanitarian country team, UN-Habitat deploys personnel within hours of a disaster to conduct rapid impact assessments and meet with government departments and United Nations agencies.
Its focus is both on securing immediate emergency shelter, as well as supporting communities to build back better and safer. UN-Habitat Philippines provides advisory services in recovery planning to local government units and manages shelter and community infrastructure construction projects in partnership with government agencies and donors.
Current and recent projects
As part of global response efforts to Covid-19, UN-Habitat officially launched Covid-19 Response As We Rebuild Marawi, an initiative being implemented in Marawi City and funded by the UN-Habitat Global Emergency Response Fund.
While the impact of COVID-19 can be felt all over the Philippines, it is especially amplified in areas recovering from conflict, such as Marawi, where a siege by pro-ISIS militants against government forces broke out in May to October 2017, displacing thousands of families.
The three-month initiative, which falls under UN-Habitat’s global Covid-19 Response Plan, will be carried out in partnership with the city government, Task Force Bangon Marawi (a national government task force created specifically for post-conflict rehabilitation and recovery of Marawi), and the Marawi Sultanate League.
It will support 2,500 internally displaced families living in transitional sites in the barangays (villages) of Sagonsongan and Boganga, as well as other families there, local authorities, the Covid-19 Incident Command Center of Marawi, women, and youth, among others.
The initiative will involve the installation of permanent handwashing facilities and provision of disinfectant supplies in transitional shelter sites and distribution of personal protective equipment (PPEs) among displaced people living in these sites and among families in host barangays
It will also ensure easy access to food and necessities at subsidized/wholesale prices amid limitations on travel and mobility resulting from quarantine measures through the operation of satellite markets and mobile stores and by promoting small-scale vegetable growing at household and community levels to increase food security, targeting vulnerable IDPs who receive small cash support from government.
From May 2017 to October 2017, armed conflict broke out in Marawi City in southern Philippines between government forces and militants, leaving large swathes of the city destroyed and tens of thousands of people displaced and homeless.
The city is slowly being rebuilt and the Japan-supported Rebuilding Marawi Shelter and Livelihood Project will provide 1,500 new homes and 10 community infrastructure projects for those who lost everything.
Transcending this community-focused approach is the development of a city-level recovery and reconstruction plan, including a local shelter plan that will situate the role of the families and communities in the overall rebuilding of the city.
Complementing shelter recovery, the project will also provide livelihood support by training households in construction, small-scale enterprise development, and other similar skills. Capacity-building for communities will also be at play as they get training on project, business, and financial management, with a strong mindfulness for gender balance, peace building, and social development mainstreamed into the training.
The project endeavours to ensure that all related activities are carried out in a manner that helps strengthen or rehabilitate the social fabric and promote peacebuilding among families and communities in relation to the wider community of Marawi and the region.
While shelter reconstruction will directly benefit 1,500 families, the project collectively targets a broader range of stakeholders, about 4,000 households, who will benefit from complementary activities like the construction or improvement of community infrastructure (water, sanitation, road, multipurpose centers), community development support, livelihood assistance, and peace and development initiatives.
The project, which began in 2017, uses the People’s Process approach in which the displaced families lead the rebuilding of their homes and communities, They are trained on community-action planning, project and financial management, construction, procurement, livelihood activities, and peace development.
Partnerships were also forged with various government agencies and key organizations such as the Social Housing Finance Corporation (SHFC) and Islamic City Government of Marawi. The project is also supported by the Department of Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (DHSUD), Philippine Institute of Civil Engineers (PICE), Sultanate League of Marawi, Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM), Ulama Council of Marawi, and United Architects of the Philippines.
ON 8 NOVEMBER 2013, Typhoon Haiyan (locally known as Yolanda) battered the Visayas with wind speeds of more than 300 kilometers per hour and storm surge over four meters high. After eight landfalls, over 550,900 houses were totally damaged and 589,404 were partially damaged, affecting 1.47 million families in 14 provinces throughout the Philippines. According to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), 130,688 households in Capiz and 153,480 in Iloilo were affected.
UN-Habitat launched the Post- Yolanda Support for Safer Homes and Settlements project in the provinces of Capiz and Iloilo through a USD 2.5 million grant from the Government of Japan in July 2014. The primary goal of the project was to capacitate Yolanda-affected communities as well as local governments in rebuilding homes and communities through a community-driven approach called the People’s Process. The process is hinged on self-recovery of shelter and community facilities and on strengthening the community’s technical capacities. Another goal of the project was to advocate and promote the concept of “build back better and safer” for shelter and community facilities. Under the People’s Process, the community led and managed the project with technical assistance and monitoring from UN-Habitat.
The project was implemented through community contracting with legally organized homeowners associations (HOAs). 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 is designed to help improve the capacity of HOAs and their members to manage the project itself, the project finances, and the development of their own organization. This approach enables them to showcase their own creativity and ingenuity since they play pivotal roles in their own recovery and rehabilitation. It establishes trust and promotes a sense of ownership on the part of the community.
UN-Habitat also collaborated with various partners in enabling communities to work towards a path to resilience. It was vital to work with local actors so that the communities continued to keep strong and sustainable relationships with local partners even after UN-Habitat‘s technical support and presence under the project ended. UN-Habitat set specific targets for providing permanent shelters, developing community infrastructure, and conducting various skills- training sessions for the community and barangay (district or village administration) members.
Project Process involved 13 components:
- Selection of partner communities
- Community damage assessment and mapping
- Formation of the UN-Habitat project team
- Community orientation on project parameters and people’s process
- Community action planning
- Design development of permanent core shelters and community infrastructure
- In-depth individual house and family assessments
- Community contracting
- Project implementation, including both community strengthening interventions and shelter and infrastructure construction
- Partnership building
- Shelter and community infrastructure turnover
- Monitoring and Evaluation including construction monitoring, toolbox meetings, community reporting, family journaling and financial monitoring.
- Final turnover activities
Target 1: Accelerated recovery for 20 target communities
Actual Output: Accelerated recovery of 28 communities
Target 2: 610 households in Capiz and Iloilo to have access to resilient shelter
Actual Output: 660 households in Capiz and Iloilo were provided resilient shelter
Target 3: 250 semi-skilled artisans receive training to upgrade their construction and DRR skills
Actual Output: 323 semi-skilled artisans received training to upgrade their construction and DRR skills
Target 4: 20 communities will have improved community facilities
Actual Output: 28 communities have 54 improved community facilities
Target 5: 4,000 household in 32 communities will benefit from the trained artisans and enhance DRR knowhow
Actual Output: 4,594 households were assessed by the House Assessment Guiders (HAGs)
Target 6: Increased awareness for building back better safer at national and local level
Actual Output: Increased awareness for building back better safer at national and local level
- The emergence of a cohesive community partnership
- Raising awareness through public-private partnership
- Families rising from the slums
- Financial management through transparent leadership
- Creating ripples: capacity building through teaching disaster and risk reduction techniques
- Additional community infrastructure through construction management
- Communities on the rise through empowerment
- Government of Japan
- Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)
- Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC)
- Social Housing and Finance Corporation (SHFC)
- 28 Homeowners Association under SHFC’s Community Mortgage Program
- Local Government units (LGUs) of Roxas, Panay, and Pontevedra (Capiz Province) and Estancia (Iloilo Province)
- United Architects of the Philippines (UAP) – Capiz Chapter
- Association of Structural Engineers of the Philippines (ASEP) – Capiz Chapter
- Base Bahay, Inc.
- BDO Foundation, Inc.
Time-Critical Support to LGUs to Plan Recovery and Support Settlement Restoration After Typhoon Yolanda
In view of the massive devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan in November 2013, the UN System in the Philippines developed the “Strategic Response Plan (SRP)” in December 2013 to support the government’s response to the immediate humanitarian needs of the people affected by the typhoon and to complement the government’s “Reconstruction Assistance on Yolanda (RAY)” programme. In the SRP, UN-Habitat and UNDP developed a joint proposal entitled “Time-Critical Support to LGUs to Plan Recovery and Support Settlement Restoration After Typhoon Yolanda.” The joint project requested US$ 8 million under the Early Recovery Cluster. While potential donors were being sought to support the joint project, UNDP and UN-Habitat agreed to start the actions on the ground based on LGU requests for support to ensure that disaster response was geared towards early recovery while still in the emergency phase.
As UN-Habitat and UNDP were operating in Region 8, funding was provided by UNDP to UN-Habitat to cover Tacloban, Guiuan, and Ormoc, with a focus on supporting LGUs in their recovery and rehabilitation planning (RRP), specifically shelter response and recovery.
LGUs were strengthened to lead the formulation of their RRP through sufficient and adequate city and settlement planning data and consultative support from UN-Habitat. Consultative support included a review of the LGUs’ Comprehensive Land Use Plans (CLUPs) relevant to recovery needs, with planning guidance on displacement, tenure and resettlement; as well as the development, issuance, and implementation of appropriate recovery policies and ordinances in relation to settlement recovery, with a strong reference to DRR, resilience, and tenure security.
UN-Habitat implemented the project using a “capacity development approach” for Tacloban and Guiuan taking off from gains so far achieved in the Post-Yolanda emergency response in their specific localities. Through technical advisory support and other relevant activities, project implementation focused on addressing the capacity gaps to link emergency and early recovery actions with their general development directions. This was specifically requested by LGUs to guide them in making post-disaster actions more sustainable.
The RRPs of Tacloban and Guiuan outline the general direction for settlements recovery in their respective localities. For Tacloban, there is a specific annexed document on Shelter Actions. For Guiuan, an action plan to pursue the goal of providing “safe and sustainable shelter for displaced and risk-sensitive households” has been included.
Creating local policies/ordinances prior to the final guidance from national government is not ideal to pursue within the project extension period. Thus, the UN-Habitat – UNDP support only pursued the development and crafting of Vulnerability Assessment (VA) so LGUs can ensure that the technical considerations relative to risk reduction and resilience building will be considered as they eventually develop their policies/ordinances related to settlements recovery.
In the conduct of the VA to identify risk levels of sites, UN-Habitat guided the Tacloban technical staff and the City Council using the CDRA guide from HLURB. For Guiuan, while a climate vulnerability assessment has been done as basis for planning, key outputs produced to guide decision and policymaking are the base maps and geohazard maps2 for the 60 Barangays where elements at risks are also layered in map forms .
Specific to shelter recovery, the following are the considerations on seamless post-disaster shelter emergency and recovery policies that were shared and/or agreed with the partner LGUs and included in the Recovery and Rehabilitation Plans:
Temporary housing urgently needs to be provided in order to decongest evacuation centers and provide safer and sturdier housing for those still in tents and makeshift houses. This is recommended for those who are living in areas at high risk to storm surge. It will serve as interim housing while people are waiting for permanent shelter assistance in safer sites. Temporary shelter can be built in identified transitory sites (ideally either near their place of origin or near the place where permanent shelter assistance will be provided) or on-site where space is available or in identified individual lots with consenting owners. Other options for interim housing may be explored such as rent subsidies and hosting.
Permanent shelter assistance should be anchored on spatial development strategies that aim to reduce risk. Based on a new pronouncement from the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Recovery and Rehabilitation (OPARR), the blanket application of the 40-meter no-build zone may be impractical for certain areas. The national government now recommends the delineation of areas into safe zones, unsafe zones, and no-dwelling zones (within the unsafe zones) based on the level of risk. Based on this pronouncement the national government and the city will be conducting a vulnerability and risk assessment to properly define safe, unsafe, and no-dwelling zones by June 2014. Unsafe zones and no dwelling zones will be defined according to the level of danger/ risk to storm surge and other hazards in addition to existing national laws on easements.
Policies for the development zones will be formulated once the vulnerability and risk assessment is finalised by the LGUs post-project and when national guidance is already available.. These policies may include recommendations for risk reduction such as limitations on future use, resilient building design, and evacuation strategies. Property and basic rights to information and consultation will be respected.
Those living in areas heavily affected by storm surge are encouraged to do the following:
- Transfer to (individually selected) lots in areas with lower risk to storm surge. Assistance to self-recovery may be available from various organizations. Coordinate with barangay officials for available assistance.
- Avail of the City Government socialized housing program in Tacloban North
- Avail of the Community Mortgage Program (CMP) of the Social Housing Finance Corporation (SHFC) wherein they can purchase lots through long-term schemes at socialized rates. The CMP assistance is available to legally organized associations of residents.