DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 27 March) – Around P35 million has been earmarked from the city’s disaster risk reduction fund to identify and acquire relocation sites for residents of flood-prone areas, City Planning and Development Official Mario Luis Jacinto said.
He added that the city is still consolidating several factors in its plan to relocate informal settlers currently living in flood-prone areas.
Speaking at Thursday’s I-Speak forum at the City Hall, Jacinto said that the relocation process includes not only the identification of settlers and available resources but also other factors such as cultural preferences and financial aspects.
“For example, you can’t ask a Badjao family to simply move from the coastal areas to higher ground because their source of livelihood is in the coastal areas,” he said.
During times of rain, they would simply move away from the sea and come back when the rains are done, he added.
Jacinto said it was also a misconception that relocation is immediate and that all settlers would be qualified to move from a hazard area to a relocation site.
He said that informal settlers living near the Davao river and other coastal areas in the city are the most hard-hit whenever there is heavy rain in the city.
The resettlement program is a “continuing process,” Jacinto said.
“This entails social preparation, a huge investment, and a compatibility with current livelihood and employment situation,” he said.
The city government could not simply ask people to move from one place to another out of fears of displacing the residents from their sources of livelihood.
The city has at least 540,000 informal settlers, according to Jacinto.
Those living in the low-lying areas such as the Davao River, Bunawan River, Talomo River, and Matina River systems are the most prone to floods.
Only those who are qualified for relocation are the priority, Jacinto said.
According to the city’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan, Davao has a total of 11 resettlement sites, with 9 of these acquired through purchases and donations received from 1997 to 2009.
The city also encourages private developers to distribute social housing units in their properties.
The relocation site in Los Amigos in Tugbok comprises 22 hectares of land.
Through the National Housing Authority, 16 houses have been turned over to qualified residents from among 50 houses that have been built.
Tibungko and Los Amigos have been identified as relocation areas in the issue of moving residents living under the Gov. Generoso bridge recently.
The residents have been asked to vacate the area so that the Davao City Water District could begin construction of a replacement pipeline to supply water to the city’s second district.
However, only one from at least 21 families was qualified for relocation at either relocations sites, according to City Demolition Chief Yusof Jimlani.
Davao also relies on partnerships with non-profit organizations such as Gawad Kalinga.
Jacinto said GK has already assisted at least 1,000 families in a 4-hectare site in Tibungco.
He said that the GK Riverdrive property in the boundary of Matina Pangi and Catalunan Grande had accommodated 230 families.
The city has helped at least 12,000 families relocate under the programs on relocation and urban land reform.
Meanwhile, the city is also strengthening its drainage networks, with Jacinto reporting that the Department of Public Works and Highways was able to receive P30 million for the rehabilitation of the Quimpo Boulevard area’s drainage system, among others.
More canals will be built near the area, he said.
Jacinto added that the city’s drainage plan is constantly being monitored.