Stakeholders renew commitment to SDGs and resilient human settlements

October 10, 2016

The Philippine Legislators Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD), with the support of Oxfam in the Philippines, conducted a policy forum on October 4 to urge stakeholders from the government and development partners towards meaningful action for the fulfillment of the 2030 Agenda, specifically with regard to resilient human settlements.

The projected housing need of the Philippines for the period of 2011-2016 is 5.5 million housing units. Included in this gap are the houses for survivors of Typhoon Yolanda who are still waiting for their new homes almost three years later.

Delays in the provision of housing units for Yolanda survivors are very concerning, since many of those already built are still unoccupied. Moreover, those who have moved to permanent houses have limited access to facilities and services, as well as livelihood opportunities. Housing agencies are encouraged to prioritize not only structures but also the other elements of human settlements, such as social preparation and land use.

“A multi-stakeholder approach to resilient human settlements is very critical. Local government units (LGUs) have a crucial role in the implementation of housing programs”, AKBAYAN Representative and PLCPD Secretary Rep. Tom Villarin stressed.

National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Social Development Staff Director III Myrna Asuncion highlighted the significant involvement of LGUs in the localization of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). She also emphasized that strong political commitment is necessary to institutionalize and mainstream the achievement of SDGs in development plans, investments, programming, and budgeting.

Regarding the current housing situation and government efforts, Director Asuncion explained, “We need more aggressive implementation of alternative and innovative approaches to land acquisition and housing solutions like vertical socialized housing programs and public rental housing.”

Mr. Ramon Fernan of Politracs, Inc. presented an example of an innovative strategy as reflected in the assessment framework of International IDEA. It focuses on the principles of answerability, responsiveness and enforceability to ensure democratic accountability in service delivery.

Professor Ladylyn Mangada of University of the Philippines Tacloban elaborated on the application of this framework in their assessment of housing programs for Yolanda-affected communities in Guiuan, Eastern Samar and Palo, Southern Leyte. Community participation and involvement in the planning and implementation of housing projects were found lacking in both communities.

“Communities must be knowledgeable about which officials and government agencies they can approach for disaster-related concerns so they can also hold them accountable. Clear and consistent communication between communities and government officials is crucial so they are aware of the needs and how best to address them,” she elaborated.

Mr. Romeo Dongeto, Executive Director of PLCPD, presented a bill seeking to institutionalize a national framework for resilient human settlements and urged the participants to support this measure. The bill is a product of a scoping study of policies governing post-disaster rehabilitation and reconstruction in Yolanda-affected communities and a series of discussions and consultations with stakeholders from civil society organizations, government agencies, and various partners.

“Typhoon Yolanda-affected communities have been victims many times over and have yet to fully recover. We hope to avoid similar instances in the future. This proposed bill is an important landmark in the achievement of resilient human settlements and adequate housing,” he explained.