MANILA, JANUARY 19, 2011-A comprehensive study leading to a master plan that will help reduce the vulnerability of Metro Manila and surrounding areas to destructive floods will soon get underway following the approval of a grant from the World Bank-administered Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) Trust Fund.
The grant, which amounts to $1.5 million, responds to the recommendations of the Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) for the Philippines after it was devastated in 2009 by heavy floods caused by typhoons "Ondoy" (Ketsana) and "Pepeng" (Parma).
According to the PDNA, typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng caused massive damage and losses amounting to US$4.4 billion, equivalent to 2.7 percent of the country's Gross Domestic Product. The Report recommended, among other measures, the formulation of a comprehensive flood management master plan to deal with the continuing vulnerability of Metro Manila and its surrounding areas to floods.
Signing for the Philippine Government, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said that the grant will boost the government's efforts to strengthen the resilience of Metro Manila and surrounding towns and cities against floods and similar disasters. "Typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng affected close to one million people, many of whom belong to the poorest of the poor. Preventing similar disasters entails reforms in key governance issues such as land use planning, housing, water management, environmental protection, and disaster risk reduction. This grant provides us additional resources to accelerate these reforms. We'd like to thank the World Bank once again for their assistance to the Filipino people."
The grant was provided by the GFDRR using funds earmarked for the Philippines by the Government of Australia through the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID). GFDRR is a partnership of 32 countries and 6 international organizations, including the World Bank, committed to helping developing countries reduce their vulnerability to natural hazards and adapt to climate change.
Secretary Rogelio Singson of the Department of Public Works and Highways said the master plan will inform policy, engineering and financial decisions to ensure that lines of accountability among agencies involved in flood management are clarified and adequate infrastructures are put in place. Equal attention, he said, will be given to non-structural measures such as community participation, catchment protection and reforestation, early warning, and emergency preparedness as an approach to flood management.
"Considering that Metro Manila accounts for roughly 40 percent of the Philippine GDP and hosts over 20 million residents, an adequate flood management framework that would provide protection to life and property against floods is a necessary undertaking for the Government," Secretary Singson said.
The formulation of the master plan will be undertaken for a period of 13 months. The Philippine Government, through the DPWH's leadership, will provide overall supervision. The technical assistance will build on the various efforts undertaken by the government, stakeholders, and development partners which have built extensive knowledge on disaster risk management and infrastructure planning in Metro Manila.
World Bank Country Director Bert Hofman said the grant is part of the institution's commitment to the Philippines under its Country Assistance Strategy (CAS) for the period 2010-2012. With the theme "Making Growth Work for the Poor," the CAS seeks to reduce the vulnerability particularly of the poor to external shocks, including those arising from natural disasters. "In addition to the master plan, the World Bank is assisting the Philippine Government in coming up with a risk finance strategy to reduce the fiscal burden arising from increasing costs of disasters, and in building the capacities of high risk LGUs to deal with natural disasters," said Mr. Hofman.
Mr. Hofman said that support for Metro Manila's flood master plan is an important addition to the World Bank's engagement in disaster risk reduction and management as well as climate change adaptation.
He added that the Bank has just approved a Global Environment Facility-funded Philippines Climate Change Adaptation Project that focuses on making agriculture and national resources management more climate-resilient. He said that the Bank is also implementing a Climate Change in Coastal Areas Project with financing from a Norwegian trust fund grant aimed at assisting local communities in reducing vulnerabilities to climate change impacts and strengthening disaster risk management in coastal areas.
"Many of the country's poor live in environmentally fragile and hazardous areas such as waterways, sea walls, slopes, and low-lying areas, making them vulnerable to natural disasters like floods and typhoons," said Mr. Hofman. "We are committed to working with the government and other sectors of society including civil society and the private sector in reducing people's vulnerability to natural disasters as well as strengthening the country's resilience to these calamities."
In Manila: Dave Llorito (632) 917-3047
Erika Lacson - Esguerra (632) 917-3013
In Washington: Carl Hanlon (202) 473-8087