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.
Current and recent projects
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.