Stemming the Tide: Community-led Plans and Solutions for Flood Control in the Philippines

It was a Saturday in September 2009, when I was in my last year in college. The clouds looked dense and it had been raining since four o’clock that morning. I had never experienced such heavy rainfall before. By the time our professor dismissed our class, the ground floor of the building had already flooded. I had to climb on the roof of the pedicab to get to the nearest train station. The flood was already waist deep at that time. Looking out the window, you could already sense the devastating impacts of Typhoon Ondoy (Ketsana).

Global Advocacy Team member, Jessica Amon, speaks at the launch of the report “Back to Development- A Call for What Development Could Be”
  1. The government has not consulted with the community neither did they inform them how will the flood management program will impact their lives. According to the report, the lack of consultation in Biñan City, for example, is not unique. Community members have reported that national and local governments rarely allow citizens to participate in development projects. 85% said that the government has never consulted them on development priorities for the country or region. With the exception of some government social welfare programs, people do not have an opportunity to provide inputs into government decisions.
  2. Despite lack of government consultation, local people are organizing to create alternative solutions to housing and flood control plans. Of all the people surveyed, 83% provided specific comments on how they would like to be consulted and how a meaningful consultation process should operate. Many people insisted that if they are resettled, it should be to a location nearby where they could access jobs, schools and basic services without having to travel long distances. Many others stressed the importance of having secure land tenure at their new homes.
  3. Several existing factors could lead to problems during the resettlement process. Lastly of those surveyed, 76% said that they do not have title to the land on which they are currently living. This creates a risk that they are treated as second — class citizens when they are resettled. 83% also said that they believe their source of livelihood will change in the future. Many expect to face the difficulties in finding new jobs, especially if they were relocated far outside the city.

IAP is a human and environmental rights organization that works with communities, civil society and social movements to change how today’s development is done.