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Binay launches slum upgrading project

by Roderick T. dela Cruz and Rey Salita
[ manilastandardtoday.com ] December 20, 2011

The World Bank is extending $455,000 (around P20 million) in grant under its Cities Alliance to formulate the Philippines’ National Slum Upgrading Strategy that will guide the government in improving the living conditions of informal settlers, according to Vice President Jejomar Binay.

The project, to be implemented by the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council, will help address urban issues related to housing, resettlement, infrastructure, social services and job creation, Binay said at the project launching held at the Coconut Palace.

“Slum communities in the Philippines endure poor living conditions such as cramped living spaces, lack of proper housing and insecure tenure, inadequate access to basic services such as water and sanitation, and exposure to health risks,” said Binay.

Metro Manila alone is home to 3 million informal settlers or about a fourth of its estimated population of 12.5 million, according to Binay. Of this number, about 525,000 live near waterways and under the bridges, unprotected from the hazards of urban living and climate change.

“The formulation of a national slum upgrading strategy will boost our efforts to alleviate the plight of informal communities and improve the livability as well as the global competiveness of our cities,” he said.

Funding for the project will come from the Cities Alliance administered by the World Bank. Cities Alliance is a global coalition of cities and their development partners committed to scaling up successful approaches to slum upgrading, city development strategies, and poverty reduction.

“Many of the Philippines’ poor are informal settlers in urban areas who live in hazardous areas such as waterways, seawalls, and low-lying areas, making them vulnerable to natural disasters like floods and typhoons,” said Mark Woodward, World Bank’s Sustainable Development Leader.

“Alleviating their plight, as well as improving the delivery of social services to these communities, forms a very important component of our Country Assistance Strategy in the country. I am pleased that Cities Alliance is involved in this slum upgrading strategy. This is a very important initiative,” said Woodward.

Members of Cities Alliance include local government units, governments (including Australia, Brazil, Chile, Ethiopia, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Nigeria Norway, Philippines, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, and the United States); non-government organizations including Slum Dwellers International and Habitat for Humanity International; and multilateral organizations including the European Union, United Nations Environmental Protection Agency, UN-HABITAT, and the World Bank.

Binay said the national slum upgrading strategy will help local government units identify policy and program options for local slum upgrading that will be integrated into the local planning process.

“The resulting investments in housing, urban infrastructure, and social services for upgraded communities will redound to creating job opportunities and improved delivery of social services, thus contributing to local economic development,” said Binay.

The project will come up with a comprehensive assessment and database on the condition, issues, opportunities, and risks confronting slum communities. This assessment will form the basis for interventions related to slum upgrading.
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