Rebuilding for a better urban future

The official blog of UN-Habitat's response to Typhoon Haiyan


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More Than Funding, It Takes Trust

When relocating to safer ground means uprooting yourself from your only source of income, from the only means you know how to support your family, only to face an uncertain future, staying put seems to make sense.

Find out what it took to change people’s minds in Guiuan.


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More Haiyan-hit municipalities prepare recovery and rehabilitation plans

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Photo by: Amy Gagalac/UNDP

Nine of 12 municipalities in Eastern Samar that were badly hit by Typhoon Haiyan prepared their initial plans for recovery and rehabilitation through orientation-workshops with technical support of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) under a joint programme with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

At the orientation workshop held in Borongan City in Eastern Samar from 18 – 20 February, most of the 12 municipalities were represented by their Municipal Planning and Development Coordinators (MPDCs) Officers, Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Managmement, Social Welfare Development, and Health Officers. The Provincial Government of Eastern Samar was represented by different heads of offices of the province, with the Provincial Planning and Development Office (PPDO). Participating municipalities were the following: Hernani, Giporlos, Mercedes, Salcedo, Balangkayan, Gen. MacArthur, Llorente, Maydolong and Guiuan. Other badly damaged municipalities are Lawaan, Balangiga and Quinapondan.

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Photo by: Amy Gagalac/UNDP

The contents of the recovery and rehabilitation planning were contextualized around four key result areas (KRAS): 1) social, 2) environment, 3) infrastructure and 4) land use, with good governance as the overarching principle. The KRAs are consistent with the rationalized local planning principles advocated by the Department of the Interior on Local Government on multi-sectoral, inclusive and participative local planning, including the associated RPS processes involved in recovery and rehabilitation planning.

The orientation workshop on recovery and rehabilitation planning generated initial outputs such as: 1) sectoral goals; 2) success indicators to achieve the goals; 3) programs/projects/policies; 4) key activities, and 5) timelines for implementation.

Guiuan, which had already undergone several of the activities in the planning process, worked further on updating and refining their outputs. The municipality also shared with other participants their experiences in rehabilitation planning.

The workshop served as initial UN-Habitat and UNDP support for recovery and rehabilitation planning for Eastern Samar.

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See related article: A step towards recovery for Guiuan and Second planning charette held for Tacloban’s Recovery and Rehabilitation plan


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Joint efforts: ARCADIS supports UN-Habitat’s ongoing work in a second follow-up mission

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The second follow-up mission by the ARCADIS in partnership with UN-Habitat presented ideas for the rehabilitation of Tacloban City to the City Government. The presentation was a result of fieldwork and consultations with the city.

The team saw the need to provide appropriate coastal protection to the city, and proposed different protection measures for the various sections of the coast: soft dunes for the south, a hard levee for the airport area, a raised bay boulevard for the built up mid-section, and a mangrove forest for the north.

In terms of urban planning, the team proposed strategies for various areas of the city, anchored on the principle that business development and employment drives spatial development. The downtown was proposed to be revitalized by retaining it as a historic core, and developing the harbour for fishing and tourism while also encouraging expansion to safer areas through the development of a new central business district further inland, and a new employment zone in the north.

The Tacloban City Government with the support of UN-Habitat will be using the results of the mission as inputs for the Tacloban City Recovery and Rehabilitation Plan.

See related article: Second planning charette held for Tacloban’s Recovery and Rehabilitation Plan

Tacloban Mayor Alfred Romualdez with members of UN-Habitat and ARCADIS.

In addition to ARCADIS’ engagement in Tacloban, they also returned to Guiuan to address water supply, coastal protection, and the proposed permanent settlement site.

With the objective of establishing and mapping Guiuan’s sensitivity to extreme events, ARCADIS illustrated the impacts of Haiyan using a numerical model that simulates the supertyphoon, tracking varying wind and pressure fields over time and space. To further improve on the initial results of the simulation, ARCADIS conducted a coastal scan along the Leyte Gulf, from Tubabao down to Sulangan. The refined results would help in mapping Guiuan’s overall vulnerability to increasingly powerful typhoons and other hazards, and would serve as inputs to the review and updating of the municipality’s Comprehensive Land and Water Use Plan.

Apart from the coastal scan, ARCADIS also looked into the rehabilitation of water lines, with more detailed assessment and sample costing, and further zoomed into the LGU’s proposed permanent settlement site in Barangay Tagporo, assessing several options for water pipe routing.

See related article: ARCADIS and UN-Habitat extend partnership to improve urban quality of life


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A step towards recovery for Guiuan

Working Group during the Charette (c) UN-Habitat Lara De Castro

The municipality of Guiuan, assisted by UN-Habitat and UNDP, conducted its first major recovery and rehabilitation planning charette, paving the way for one of the hardest hit municipalities to chart its overall direction and specific strategies towards post-Haiyan development.

See related story: Guiuan: First struck by Typhoon Haiyan…

The charette was a blend of brainstorming, workshops, and technical inputs based on local knowledge and community action. More than 75 participants—from the local government, business sector, civil society, academia and people’s organizations—tackled four “key result areas” (KRAs) that were tagged as possible entry points towards rehabilitation and recovery. The KRAs, namely Social Development, Economy, Environment, and Infrastructure, stem from UN-Habitat’s Emergency Response-Recovery-Sustainable Development Continuum. The said framework was recently named by the Office of the Presidential Assistant on Recovery and Rehabilitation (OPARR) as the preferred approach in Haiyan-affected areas.

The charette participants laid out Guiuan’s pre- and post-disaster scenarios for each KRA, drawing from existing plans as well as post-disaster assessments. The context-setting exercise also built on previous activities that Guiuan and UN-Habitat jointly conducted, such as climate change and disaster risk vulnerability assessment, community action planning, and other technical inputs. It allowed the municipality to assess their present situation from the combined lens of land and water use, sectoral development, and existing and potential hazards.

Guiuan - limited self recovery adjacent to city hall (c) UN-Habitat, Bernhard Barth

Immediately after the charette, the stakeholders organized themselves into the Guiuan Recovery, Rehabilitation and Sustainable Development Group (GRRSDG). The GRRSDG works to align current Haiyan responses with the municipality’s recovery and rehabilitation goals and targets. It aims to direct resources towards the most rational and appropriate activities, both sectorally and spatially. The municipal government leads the GRRSDG, with the local chief executive, legislative council, and UN-Habitat acting as the steering committee.

The GRRSDG generally follows the institutional structure used in the mandated local planning process. This ensures a seamless transition from rehabilitation to regular planning and development at the local level. UN-Habitat continues to support the municipality through process facilitation and technical advice, under its joint programme with UNDP.


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Guiuan: First struck by Typhoon Haiyan, again by Tropical Depression Lingling

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Guiuan was the first municipality to be hit by Haiyan.  Caught directly in the centre of the storm, Guiuan experienced wind gusts of nearly 380 km per hour (235 mph), and sustained wind speeds of 315 km per hour (195 mph).

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Soon after the typhoon struck and in preparing for a long road towards recovery, Guiuan’s local government requested UN-Habitat to assist with transitioning from an emergency phase, to recovery and sustainable development.  Nearly 1400 people were temporarily relocated after Haiyan, many who were now residing in temporary make-shift tents unable to withstand the elements.

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Heavy rains brought on by Tropical Depression Lingling

Barely recovered from the effects of Typhoon Haiyan, Guiuan experienced additional rainfall caused by a tropical depression (Lingling) last week. 30% of emergency shelter tents reportedly collapsed, causing families to evacuate to vacant bunkhouses and warehouses. This highlights the need to provide more durable and resilient housing for those affected by Haiyan and still living in disaster-prone areas. The Municipality of Guiuan and UN-Habitat are currently co-leading the Guiuan Recovery and Sustainable Development Group, ensuring that the humanitarian assistance in Guiuan supports long term sustainable development and urban planning.

To see pictures of the Guiuan Recovery and Sustainable Development Group in action please visit our photo gallery.