Thursday, August 23, 2012

Call for better planning in wake of Manila floods

United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction: Even by the standards of one of the world's most disaster-prone countries, the August floods which hit Manila and other parts of the Philippines have been devastating. Latest reports indicate that four million people have been affected and as many as one million people are living with relatives or in evacuation centres.

UNISDR Regional Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction, Senator Loren Legarda, writing in the Inquirer News has called for more "disaster and climate risk-sensitive development planning. Today, over half a million Filipinos, so called climate refugees that were displaced by the monsoon rains, have suffered irreparable damage on their homes and possessions, adding to the 3,995 families still residing in temporary shelters seven months after Tropical Storm Sendong."

The chairwoman of local NGO Transform Asia, Reihana Mohideen, told Radio Australia that many thousands of affected were living in squatter colonies with inadequate pumping capacity and poor drainage.

She said: "The devastation that you travel through to get to these centres of flooded huts - this is the face of poverty. Housing is inadequate. There are no proper drainage systems. The roads get flooded so quickly, and you don't have water catchment to catch and store this water. There's inadequate power supply."

Her comments were echoed by urban planner Nathaniel Einseidel, who said the Philippines had enough technical know-how, and access to financing, to solve the ongoing flood problems.  "It's a lack of appreciation for the benefits of long-term plans. It's a vicious cycle when the planning, the policies and enforcement are not very well synchronised," said Mr Einseidel, who was Manila's planning chief from 1979-89...

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