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Integrating disaster resilience with climate change adaptation

15 July 2010

Published Date: September 14, 2010

ESSC worked over the past year with the Homeless Peoples Federation Philippines (HPFPI), with assistance from the Philippine Action for Community-led Shelter Initiatives (PACSII) to contribute to building the capacity of their urban poor associations for climate change adaptation and increase their resilience to disasters.

Challenged with the demands of their numerous ongoing and planned shelter-related activities, the urban poor federation sought ESSC’s assistance as part of their strategy in establishing and expanding their professional support partners.

These groups were also fed up with having to contend with unprofessional “professionals” who did not provide them with the assistance they need in ensuring the safety of their housing sites. The federation members are mostly survivors themselves from previous disasters who had to relocate

ESSC’s engagement with HPFPI-PACSII focused on adaptation to the threats associated with climate change and mainly involved integrating landslide and flooding risk reduction in the selection of relocation sites, planning on site development, and upgrading and management of currently occupied sites. Climate change, which is triggering severe rainfall events, poses huge threats to the safety of urban poor groups in their highly vulnerable housing sites.

Participatory site assessment

The ESSC project team conducted site visits with association members, HPFPI regional volunteers and PACSII in selected sites in Quezon City, Rizal Province, Albay Province, Iloilo City, Davao City, Digos City, and Kidapawan City.

Participatory site assessment is a tool for understanding the potential of flooding or landslide at a site that other associations can eventually do themselves. During the site visits, the ESSC project team, with association officers, HPFPI volunteers and PACSII, walked around the acquired properties or housing sites, checking out indicators and condition which might contribute to future landslide and flooding.

What the associations found of value was the direct exchange of information and views: ESSC sharing observations as well as some recommendations and the association members validating some observations, sharing their knowledge and clarifying their concerns. The observed indicators of landslide and flooding hazards onsite and in the immediate surroundings were then related to available site development plans for acquired lots or the actual location of houses. The assessment at the housing site-level allowed for the identification of specific lots, block areas, or houses at high risk to landslide or flooding hazards.

The environmental indicators and conditions, such as topography (slope incline and curvature), drainage and streams (location in a catchment, evidence of shallow groundwater, springs, seepages), and features associated with past landslides and sedimentation are discussed in the manual ESSC put together as a practical guide for HPFPI. People with no technical background can observe most of these indicators and conditions in the landscape. Initial assessment of prospective properties should be integrated in the process for acquiring properties. Associations are strongly encouraged to conduct their initial assessments to avoid poor site choices and to consult technical professionals to validate their assessments.

Manual on integrating landslide and flooding disaster risk reduction in housing initiatives

The manual is a key tool for strengthening capacities of HPFPI member-associations in their various community-led shelter initiatives. Adaptation strategies to existing flooding and landslide risk conditions, which can be aggravated by climate change impacts, are integrated in three major areas in HPFPI’s community-led shelter initiatives and disaster interventions. Key elements of the manual are:

  • Informed site selection for relocation site acquisition
  • Setting basic standards in site planning and development
  • Integrating site management, disaster preparedness and community upgrading
  • Disaster preparedness efforts
  • Mangroves management

The ESSC project team that undertook this activity includes Dallay Annawi (Team Leader), Pedro Walpole (research and analysis), Iris Legal (technical support), and Emmanuel Sambale, Ariel Amor, and Myra Colis (mapping support).

For the complete project report, please proceed to the ESSC website

Reprinted from ESSC News.

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