Transforming spaces into safe communities
The Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) has laid out plans and programs to mitigate the susceptibility of Filipino communities to natural calamities.
Under the 2040 National Housing and Urban Development Sector Plan (NHUDSP), our 20-year housing roadmap anchored on the Philippine Development Plan and AmBisyon Natin 2040, we have identified four banner programs namely Creating Spaces; Transforming Spaces to Communities; Making Communities Accessible and Affordable, and Empowering Communities. Our goal is to ensure well-planned communities for all Filipinos.
In my previous column, I tackled “Creating spaces for urban-rural continuum.” As a follow through, I will be discussing our second banner program which is “Transforming spaces into communities” to establish the alignment of our programs under the 20-year housing roadmap.
The World Bank estimated that around 10,000 people had died due to major typhoons Yolanda, Ondoy, Pepeng and Sendong. Meanwhile, the National Economic and Development Authority reported over P388 billion worth of damages due to disasters from 2011 to 2018. These calamities ultimately resulted in significant economic damages and losses as 85 percent of the country’s gross domestic product comes from areas exposed to climate change risks and unfortunately, about 1.4 million informal settler families nationwide dwell in those areas as well.
Worse, the COVID-19 pandemic struck—worsening the urban setting’s vulnerability to public health risks, and amplifying development issues not only on the health sector but also the economy, transportation and even housing, among other elements in the urban ecosystem.
Communities that ‘breathe’
As the agency mandated to provide adequate, affordable, resilient and sustainable housing communities to all Filipinos especially the underprivileged, the Department takes the lead in addressing the country’s housing and human settlement concerns.
Realizing the numerous environmental and societal risks adversely contributing to the housing problems in the country, we do not just want to provide basic shelters or roofs above our people’s heads. Instead, we aim to improve the overall living conditions of Filipinos. They should be safe and secure, and able to address their health needs.
Our view of “Transforming spaces into communities” is to promote resiliency, equity, inclusiveness and better quality of lives. Through this program, we will guide communities in implementing solutions that increase adaptive capacity and encourage sustainable economic recovery and healthy living conditions.
Once a space is secured and developed for urban activities, it is no longer just a geographic area. It inevitably transforms into communities that “breathe.” It becomes a collection of human beliefs, varied interests and values-laden decisions that crystallize into unique, place-based cultures.
This narrative prompted us to develop a program that will meticulously scrutinize the urban ecosystem and the structures that we build to stand the effects of climate change and other disasters.
Specifically, we have identified four sub-programs for this purpose namely, Integrated Settlement Development Program for Informal Settler Families (ISFs); Vertical Housing Program; Completion on Critical Housing Programs; and Green Infrastructure Development Program.
We cannot address all the problems in the housing sector overnight, but we are moving forward with pro-active programs in close coordination with all our stakeholders.
And DHSUD takes these challenges head on by adjusting constantly on the way we plan for more sustainable and resilient communities. We are coming up with better and safer solutions now—not just for us, but for the future generations as well.
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