Saturday, August 24, 2013

What’s making the floods worse in Manila?

The Business Mirror (Philippines): Lashed each year by typhoons and stuck with outdated drainage systems, the Philippine capital has been hit by ever-worsening floods. Population growth, inadequate infrastructure, corruption, deforestation and even trash buildup combine to exacerbate the impact.

It’s a trend experts expect to continue. Here’s why: Manila is located in a catch basin sandwiched between Manila Bay and Laguna Lake to the southeast. The city was built on waterways, canals and creeks that have, for centuries, channeled floodwaters into the sea.

But half the 40 kilometers of narrow waterways and canals that would drain rainwater—constructed and modified during the Spanish colonial period—have been lost, cemented or paved over, said architect and urban planner Paulo Alcazaren.

Many of the remaining ones are clogged with garbage and ill-maintained, teeming with squatter colonies occupying riverbanks and coastal areas.

Much of Manila, once known as the “Pearl of the Orient,” was lost in heavy bombardment at the end of World War II. The haphazard, poorly planned urban reconstruction, coupled with the tenfold jump in population to nearly 12 million today, has severely strained the city’s ability to cope with flooding.

The capital’s flood-control system is outdated, incomplete and poorly designed, said Felino Palafox Jr., another urban architect who has closely studied flooding in Manila....

The Manila skyline, shot by airforcefe, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

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