The views expressed in this paper/presentation are the views of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect

the views or policies of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), or its Board of Directors, or the governments they represent. ADB does not guarantee the source, originality, accuracy, completeness or reliability of any statement, information, data, finding, interpretation, advice, opinion, or view presented, nor does it make any representation concerning the same.

Emma Porio1 Department of Sociology and Anthropology School of Social Sciences, Ateneo de Manila University Background Paper for Conference on the "The Environments of the Poor´, 24-26 Nov 2010, New Delhi


Introduction and Main Messages

Studies on the consequences of floods and other climate change related effects on vulnerable populations like the urban poor are very important for city planning and development. In early July 2008, the World Bank estimated that the Philippines loses P15 billion every year to disasters emerging from floods, heavy monsoon rains, and typhoons. This amount represents about 0.7 percent of the gross national product (GNP). In October 2009, Typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng caused a total of Php 3.8 billion in damages and Php 24.8 billion in immediate losses to agriculture, fisheries, and forestry sector (Joint Assessment of Ondoy and Pepeng, 2009). The Philippines gets an average of 20 typhoons annually and in 2009, Metro Manila weathered 10 strong typhoons bringing about heavy rainfall and floods to the metropolis (PAGASA 2010). This paper describes the socio-economic conditions and vulnerabilities of floodprone households along the major riverlines of Metro Manila flood plains. In particular, it focuses on the social, economic, and political consequences of flood and other climate change-related effects on the quality of life of urban poor households and their communities. The paper argues that the social vulnerability of urban poor households interacts with the ecological/environmental vulnerability (e.g., low-lying areas along river systems, swamplands/wetlands, subsidence) of their communities, heightening the negative effects of floods and other disasters on their impoverished conditions. These effects are further compounded by rapid urbanization, lack of sound planning and development, and poor investments in social housing and infrastructure (e.g., sanitation and sewerage systems). These factors further heighten the effects of climate change (e.g., intensity and frequency of typhoons and floods) on the city because of density and scale of the population and investments involved. The study also showed that vulnerable households have crafted survival strategies (mainly driven by environmental demands, affordability, and gender), including a water-based lifestyle that allow them to adapt their household/family management and livelihood to climate change. Meanwhile both local and national governments have also implemented some adaptation programs to ³climate-proof´ vulnerable communities, infrastructure, and development investments such as water diversion techniques and concreting roads, reinforcing infrastructure and drainage systems. But these are mainly re-active programs as climate change issues are not integrated into their urban planning and development programs.
Dr. Porio is Professor of Sociology and Department Chairman. Please send comments to:


The research findings in this paper point to the following urgent messages and tasks: 1. Environmental degradation of riverline ecosystems has increased the vulnerability of the urban poor to climate change hazards (floods, storm surges and sea level rise), and increasing their poverty which further compromise their quality of life. 2. The environmental and social vulnerabilities of the urban poor are further heightened by the rapid urbanization, congestion, and lack of proper land use planning and development. Thus, urban planning and development have to be spatially anchored and sensitive to ecological-environmental demands of these places or communities, especially investments in slum upgrading/resettlement, social housing, and infrastructural development (e.g., climate-proofing infrastructure or green infrastructure strategies). 3. With climate change, there is a need to calibrate/align investments in community infrastructure, services, livelihood, and health for the poor with sensitivity to the ecological-environmental vulnerabilities of already degraded riverlines/wetlands. 4. Investments in risk reduction should be part and parcel of urban planning anchored on a sound community-based/ecologically-based risk mapping. 5. There is an urgent need for a water sensitive urban design2 including the development/restoration of green spaces/infrastructure (including architecture, technologies, etc.) to reduce flood-related risks in the flood basins of Metro Manila. 6. There is a critical need for an integrated flood control plan in Metro Manila and other initiatives to climate-proof the city where building codes/permits must strictly impose restrictions in environmentally vulnerable places. 7. National urban development frameworks must integrate climate change considerations. 8. Decentralization limits the responses of local governments as ecological boundaries of climate change go beyond political-administrative boundaries. II. Metro Manila and the Environments of the Poor in Urban Wetland Areas

The first part of this section describes how the ecological characteristics and pattern of growth and development have made Metro Manila increasingly vulnerable to climate change effects while the second part focuses on the environmental and social vulnerabilities of the poor communities along riverlines/wetlands. The National Capital Region (NCR) or Metro Manila has a land area of 636 square kilometers, a semi-alluvial plain formed by the sediment flows from the Meycauayan and Malabon-Tullahan river basins in the North, the Pasig-Marikina river basin in the East (Bankoff 2003), and the West Mangahan river basin. The city is open to Manila Bay on the West and to a large lake, Laguna de Bay, on the Southeast. Thus, ³the metropolitan area is a vast drainage basin that experiences frequent inundations from overflowing rivers and storm waters that render the existing system of esteros

Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, UK.


(modified natural channels) and canals constructed during the Spanish and American colonial periods inadequate´ (Liongson 2000 cited in Bankoff 2003). The impacts of climate change on this environmental context are highlighted by the marked sea level rise (SLR), and increase in monsoon rains, typhoons, and floods. Moreover, this environmental context interacts in complex ways with the patterns of human activities in the metropolis (Porio 2010). Metro Manila is the center of political, economic, and socio-cultural activities of the nation. The strategic location by Manila Bay and the mouth of the Pasig River led the growth and development of the capital city. Being near a river and a good harbor made possible the development and expansion of the metropolis. Over time, with large in-migration and rapid population growth, the city expanded to the suburbs, surrounding municipalities, and to areas risky for habitation (e.g., swampy areas, near or above esteros or water canals, along the river or earthquake fault lines, etc.). In response to this rapid population growth, urban infrastructural development continued though not of standards expected for a burgeoning population. This is seen in the increased investments in housing, basic services (water, sewerage, electricity), and infrastructure (roads, bridges, flyover, etc.). While large public and private investments try to operate within existing regulatory frameworks, the ability of the government regulatory agencies to impose the building and infrastructure standards is quite weak. The tendency to cut corners and compromise building standards go largely unregulated. Meanwhile, the growth and expansion of slum and squatter settlements have not abated. In Metro Manila, many buildings/infrastructure are built on dangerous and risky areas (e.g., near the seashore or flood zone, unstable ground and prone to landslides, etc.), without permits or with permits largely suspect. About a third (31 percent) of Metro Manila¶s land area is flood prone (Ballesteros 2009), particularly in the cities of Manila, Navotas, Kalookan, Marikina, Pasig, Pateros, and Taguig. These areas are located in low-lying zones with structurally inferior soils (Cabanilla 1996:4 cited in Ballesteros 2009) and suffer subsidence and siltation. Some parts of Pateros and Taguig, especially those along the river lines, can remain waterlogged for months (Ballesteros 2009). Moreover, the lack of sound and consistent land use planning has also lead to complicated, inefficient and expensive system of permits and licensing making land for housing not affordable for the majority of the city residents (Ballesteros 2009). Socio-economic factors like land use practices, infrastructural development, building standards/codes and practices, urban development policies and programs have greatly shaped the settlement and building patterns of the city. By itself, the lack of effective interaction among these forces already result in a built environment that pose high risks to residents and infrastructure alike but climate change hazards have largely compounded their vulnerabilities. Urban areas like Metro Manila are highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change because of the high population density in degraded environments and concentration of investments in infrastructure, resources, and economic development. Urban Philippines account for 75 percent of the country¶s economic output with Metro Manila accounting for 33 percent of the country¶s GDP. 3

Table 1. Population Growth and Density, Philippines and Metro Manila (1980-2007). Metro Manila % Share to Total Pop Density Population Total Pop 1980 48,098,460 141 5,926,000 12 1985 54,668,332 161 6,942,204 13 1990 60,703,206 178 7,948,392 13 1995 68,616,536 201 9,454,040 14 2000 76,504,077 225 9,932,560 13 2007 88,574,614 260 11,553,427 13 Source: Philippine Yearbook (NSO), various years Year Philippines

Density 9,565 11,206 12,830 15,260 16,032 18,650

Rapid urbanization, population growth, and the weak infrastructural and economic bases of the metropolis have heightened its vulnerability to the effects of climate change. The population of Metro Manila has been rapidly growing. From 5.93 million in 1980 to 7.95 million in 1990, and 9.93 million in 2000, it is projected to reach 19.43 million in 2020. In 2007, the National Statistics Office (NSO) reported that Metro Manila has 12 million residents but the average daytime population is about 16 million (see Figure 1 below). In 2007, the population density of the metropolis was 18, 650 persons per square kilometer and is projected to increase to 29, 146 in 2020. Large increases in population have dramatically increased the demand for goods and services in the transport and energy sectors as well as the waste generation in the metropolis (Ajero 2002). Since this trend shows no signs of abating, the impacts of climate change on the vulnerable populations of the metropolis will definitely be heightened in the coming years.

Figure 1. Population Trends of Metro Manila (1970-2020)


Metro Manila may have lower poverty incidence compared to the rest of the country but it accounts for more than half (52 percent, about 726,908 households or 4.4 million individuals) of the country¶s informal settlers. In 2000, this constitutes about a third of the 2,132,989 million Metro Manila households (NSO 2003). Most of them are living in environmentally degraded areas and/or danger zones along waterways, creeks, swampy areas, and rivers because these are the only areas affordable to them and also because of the inability of local authorities to impose building codes and standards. The figure below show the areas of Metro Manila that gets flooded given a 10-year, 30-year, and 100-year flood regime.



Figure 2.Map of Flooded Areas of Metro Manila with 10-30-100 year floods Source: JICA Flood Study.

The Flood Control Division of Metro Manila Development Authority identified the following factors that make Metro Manila increasingly vulnerable to floods: (1) rapid urbanization, congestion and the highly built-up environment of Metro Manila which has doubled the surface runoff of flood waters, (2) improper solid waste management (both industrial and domestic) that leads to clogging and siltation of drainage and waterways; (3) structural obstructions, encroachment and presence of informal settlements along open waterways which impede the flow of water, (4) inadequate flood control structures and inadequate capacity of existing drainage systems, (5) lack of integrated land use plans leading to inefficient use of land and other resources, and (6) excessive and intense rainfall due to climate change (www. The following section describes show the environmental and social vulnerabilities of 300 surveyed urban poor households in 14 communities living along the riverlines of the Metro Manila flood basins, namely, (1) Marikina-Pasig River, (2) West Mangahan, and (3) KAMANAVA areas (comprising the cities of Kalookan, Malabon, Navotas and Valenzuela)3. These households are located in the low-lying areas (mostly wetlands/swamp lands) of the following river systems and its tributaries. The PasigThe data collection of the study was done between February 2008-May 2009 before the big floods brought by Typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng in Sept.-Oct 2009.


Marikina Rivers joins the Napindan Channel and Mangahan Floodway in West Manggahan flowing towards the Laguna Lake which has no water outlet. Meanwhile, the Malabon-Tullahan Rivers in the KAMANAVA area connect to the coastal system of Manila Bay (see map below). Aside from being traditionally flood prone, these areas are highly exposed to the combined effects of climate change such as heavy monsoon rains, typhoons, and sea level rise (SLR, tidal/storm surges), most especially those in the KAMANAVA area. The study found that the eco-environmental vulnerability of these communities interacts strongly with the social vulnerability (low incomes, low education, etc.) of the urban poor households, heightening the negative effects of climate related changes (floods, tidal/storm surges, sea level rise, increased typhoons, intensity of monsoon rains) on them.

Figure 4. Map of the Flood Prone Areas of Metro Manila River Basins, and the Location of the Sample Research Communities (Source of Map: JICA Flood Study).


Environmental and social characteristics of wetland urban poor. As mentioned earlier, the households resided in low-lying areas, mostly wetlands/swamp lands, surrounding flood plains/river systems and its tributaries (Pasig-Marikina River, Napindan River in West Mangahan, and the Malabon and Tullahan Rivers in the KAMANAVA areas) which are connected to the sea through Manila Bay and to the lake system of Laguna de Bay. Being flood prone, these areas suffer the effects of heavy monsoon rains, typhoons, and the regular tidal surges in KAMANAVA and West Mangahan. Most of the surveyed households belong to informal or slum/squatter settlements, with no security of tenure in their housing and no adequate access to basic services like water, electricity, sewerage and drainage systems. The households in these communities regularly suffer the risks from floods, water surges during storms and high tides, in addition to sickness of household members and from lack of community security (e.g., incidence of drug abuse, theft and other petty crimes). Climate change, environmental, and social risks. Because of their ecoenvironmental location, the sample communities are prone to storm surges and floods from typhoons and heavy monsoon rains from June to November, the traditional rainy season for Metro Manila. The areas of KAMANAVA have always been susceptible throughout the year to sea level rise (SLR) through tidal surges/storms. But during the last few years, the residents have observed changes in the climate patterns. They observed that typhoons and heavy monsoon rains have come even beyond the JuneNovember rainy season (i.e., December or January) and during the dry season (AprilMay). In 2009, the first typhoon occurred in the last week of April while the most damaging of them (Ondoy and Pepeng) came in Sept.-Oct. 2009. The residents of KAMANAVA also reported that the rise in the water level during tidal/storm surges have 9

increased as seen in the water marks in their houses. Lately, when tidal surges coincided with storm surges in the KAMANAVA area, water would reach waist-deep in some areas and took longer much longer to subside. These create additional risks to their household appliances, garments, and loss of work opportunities, according to the respondents. Economic problems and eco-social vulnerability. The survey showed that while respondents worry about the increased risks posed by floods and storm/tidal surges, economic problems are still their over-riding concern, followed by securityrelated risks like thefts/hold-up, fire, and drug abuse4. These problems are closely related to the physical congestion of their communities and the economic insecurities (e.g., high unemployment and underemployment) of their families. Given these social and economic risks, their vulnerability to the effects of typhoons, floods, and sea level rise (SLR) or storm/tidal surges becomes immeasurably heightened. In turn, these household level risks/vulnerabilities also increase with the expansion of residential, commercial, and industrial development in these flood-prone localities. This is clearly demonstrated in the rapid expansion of building projects in the Mangahan River Basin, which do not have the necessary infrastructure support like proper drainage, sewerage, and road systems. Thus, problems of flooding have become critical among households near the Napindan Channel and Laguna de Bay, areas not really suitable for habitation or industrial use as these are mostly wetlands or marshy areas. The licensing and permit system of local governments have not restrained the continuous building activities occurring in these areas. Building contractors just fill up the marshy areas with quarried soil and raise the height of their ground floors resulting in increased flooding to the lower wetland sections occupied by the urban poor. In these flood-prone areas, the expansion of congested, informal settlements alongside regular/formal residential subdivisions in danger zones and public domain areas continue. Residents noted that land filling of marshy lands by real estate developers have increased the flooding and environmental damage this past decade as traditional waterways have disappeared with these development activities. The substandard sewage/sewerage and road systems of these residential subdivisions have also worsened the living conditions of the urban poor informally settled around these areas. Houses of temporary materials are often built against dike walls, along creeks, rivers, tributaries, and on wetlands or swampy areas. Aside from the congestion and the seeming impermanence of these informal settlements, there is a high tendency to compromise building standards by slum lords who want to take advantage of the expanding rental markets and the lack of regulation by local officials. This is especially true for those residing in the nearby factories of Pasig City, Taguig City, and the fish port in Navotas City. Thus, heightening the risk exposure of the households living in these areas are the inadequacy of services like water, electricity, health and the absence of infrastructural development like cemented roads, drainage, and sewage systems. Water-logged or swampy places along riverlines like those in West Mangahan flood basin connecting to the Laguna de Bay system, make the residents highly vulnerable to diseases like dengue. Inadequate garbage collection and disposal services in urban poor communities greatly contribute to the clogging of drainage systems, canals

This was mostly the case before the great damage wrought by Ondoy in late Sept. 2009. Some crosschecking in the West Mangahan area in May 2009 show that some respondents now have a fear of heavy rains for fear that floods may wash out their homes.


and waterways. Also informal settlements congest areas along rivers, creeks, and waterways and obstructing the flow of flood waters. This problem is further compounded by lack of proper sanitation and sewage systems and clean water, leading to high incidence of water- and vector-borne diseases. In addition, these flood-prone communities are continually degraded by subsidence and siltation compounding the clogging of waterways which has been used for dumping of industrial (e.g., cement factory in Taguig City continually dumping wastes leading to heavy siltation and imminent death of the river) and domestic wastes. Continuous excavation and construction, without proper disposal of waste materials, have also worsened the siltation and clogging of waterways. Environmental degradation has rendered these places unsuitable for human habitation but building and development continue to occur. Informal settlers build houses, reclaim land and continue their development activities because the local government is unable to impose the building codes and other requirements. These settlers serve as ³vote banks´ during elections which local officials have come to rely for support. Even formal structures like roads and bridges are constructed without due consideration to climate change effects such as roads and railway line without storm drains in water-logged areas like KAMANAVA and West Mangahan. In some areas of Navotas and Malabon, salt water intrusion had rendered water from deep wells not potable for drinking. To summarize, the environmental vulnerabilities of the three riverline ecoenvironmental characteristics seem to correlate highly with social vulnerabilities of urban poor households. Thus, among the surveyed households, the most vulnerable urban poor households (have low incomes, suffered more losses from floods) also come from the urban poor in highly environmentally vulnerable places in Mangahan flood basin (e.g., marshy/wetlands along Napindan Channel and Mangahan Maybunga Floodway). The next section will elaborate this more. Other studies confirm that the cities/municipalities of KAMANAVA flood plains and Taguig City in West Mangahan flood plain also comprise some of the poorest districts in the national capital region (NSCB 2003 City and Municipal Level Poverty Estimates). III. Vulnerability Due to Climate Change for the Wetland Urban Poor

This section describes the intersections of eco-environmental and social vulnerabilities of poor households located along the riverlines of the Metro Manila flood plains. As mentioned in the previous section, these social vulnerabilities gets intensified with the degradation of their environments caused by the following: (1) clogging of drainage systems, canals and waterways by improper waste disposal; (2) water-logged and swampy places make the residents highly vulnerable to vector-borne diseases like dengue; (3) lack of proper sanitation and sewage systems and clean water, (4) soil subsidence, (4) siltation of rivers, creeks, and waterways. Social vulnerabilities of the urban wetland poor. As mentioned earlier, the study surveyed a total of 300 households in 14 urban poor communities located in the 11

three river basins (refer to Figure 4, p. 8). The respondents were mostly female (86 percent) as they were the ones available and quite willing to be interviewed, compared to the male members of the household. Their ages ranged from 18-92 years old, with a median age of 42 years old. They were mostly legally married (61 percent), or have livein/cohabitation arrangements (20 percent), while the rest were widowed/or separated (14 percent), and single (4 percent). Their median monthly household income was P8,000/month. Of the communities surveyed, the barangays of West Navotas, and San Joaquin in Pasig and Ibayo Tipaz in Taguig had the lowest monthly median incomes of P8,000 compared to Longos in Malabon (P23,250) and Bangkulasi in Navotas (P18,000), which had higher median income levels. Most of the very poor households (old, widowed/separated, had no income and were only dependent on whatever food support that were given by their children or relatives), also came from these low income communities. These households were also located in environmentally vulnerable places along floodways and had dilapidated housing, have no adequate to services and have clogged waterways/creeks. Most of the respondents have reached an average of 8.5 years in schooling (i.e, some high school). Their low level of education, in part, explain their low levels of formal employment, with most of them deriving their sources of income from the informal sector, and therefore, end up having low household income levels. Table 2. Environmental Vulnerabilities of Places: Sources of Vulnerabilities for Urban Poor Households in the Three Metro Manila Flood Plains Flood Environmental characteristics: Socio-eco characteristics: Plain/Areas Sources of vulnerabilities Sources of vulnerabilities PasigMarikina Living in flood-prone areas along the Median monthly income: riverlines/riverbanks, clogged waterways P18,000 Ave. Education: 9.5 years


Living along flood-prone riverlines; near Median monthly income: the coast (prone to floods and sea level P15,000 rise/tidal surges), land subsidence, Ave. education: 11 years clogged waterways Living along flood prone riverlines Median monthly income: (Mangahan Floodway, Napindan P8,000 Channel) near Laguna Lake, swampy Ave. education: 7.5 years; lands/wetlands, clogged waterways Housing dilapidated or made of light materials, migrants/renters, more women-headed households, low access and pay more for 12

West Mangahan

services(e.g. potable water can cost 100-300 % more)

Effects of Typhoons, Floods and Storm/Tidal surges5 Of the 300 households interviewed, about two-thirds reported that they were severely affected by impacts of climate change like floods (two-thirds), storm/tidal surges (almost one-half), and typhoons (almost three-fourths). Effects on Basic Services Sewage, Garbage, Drainage, and Toilets. Slightly more than one-fourth (27 percent) of the households have substandard toilets (antipolo type or dug-out latrines) or none at all (i.e., use their neighbor¶s toilet, deposit wastes directly to the river, sea, canal or water channel). Of those who have toilets, about 27 percent complained that during floods, their toilets get clogged with waste overflowing to their floor and forced to relieve themselves in the river/sea or in their neighbors¶ toilet located far from the flooded area. They complained that during floods and tidal/storm surges their place smell so bad and become quite dirty with floating garbage, plastic bags, and human waste. Aside from the smell, dirt and environmental pollution, they also complained that sometimes, huge worms or snakes would emerge from their toilets, sewage, and/or drainage. The respondents also complained of the garbage from neighboring areas would be carried by the flood waters to their households and clogging the nearby canals and drainage channels. The residents of the KAMANAVA area, particularly in San Agustin, Malabon and Bagumbayan South in Navotas complained that the garbage (mostly plastic bags) from Manila Bay would float near/under their floors. Environmental pollution can be seen in the very dark, murky, sometimes oily waters of the river nearby or under their floors. According to the residents, this continuous flow of garbage discouraged them from disposing properly their trash because even if they do, their environment is still littered with garbage from other communities. Yet, this polluted environment does not prevent children from swimming in these waters, especially during heavy rains, quite oblivious to risks of infection/contamination and possibly drowning from these polluted waters. Electricity. Only 39 percent of the households have their own electric meter while 42 percent of them buy their electricity from their neighbor at a higher price. Meanwhile, 10 percent of them admitted obtaining electricity through illegal connection and almost 9 percent do not have electricity at all and use oil/gas lamps and candles for light, heightening the risks for fires. Of those who have electricity connections, they complained that during typhoons and floods, they often experience energy fluctuations,
The household interviews attempted to distinguish the effects of typhoons, floods, and tidal surges but the results show no difference.


³brown-outs´, and ³grounded´ electricity sources. During these times, the barangay police (tanod) will ask themto shut off their electricity as safety precaution. Water. Almost one-third (32 percent) of the households have direct supply of piped water while the remaining two-thirds buy at higher cost (about 300 percent more) from suppliers/neighbors (65 percent) who have water connections from providers or have dug/artesian wells. Slightly less than one-fourth (23 percent) of them have their water supply affected by flood and storm/tidal surges. During these times, their water becomes dirty because their wells become buried by the floods and by tidal/storm surges. Thus, they have to buy potable water from the water suppliers, who in turn, increase their prices by about 100-300 percent more (Porio and Lao, 2010). During floods and water surges, then, their household expenditure on water, food commodities, and transportation increase by about 50-100 percent. Health Effects and Socio-economic Losses Sickness, loss of income, and amount spent on medicines/health. Owing to the inadequate supply of potable water, compromised sanitation, and adverse weather conditions, a substantial number of the respondents reported that they or their household members got sick from the typhoons, monsoon rains, and floods. On the average, the respondents reported losing from 2 to 98 days in the last rainy season because they were sick and have to stay home or could not report for work or pursue their business/livelihood activities. They complained that they or their household members suffered from skin itchiness/allergies, psoriasis, athlete¶s foot, fever, colds, diarrhea, typhoid, dengue, and the resurgence of primary complex or TB infection among children and the elderly. Of those who suffered from flooding, they reported that they or their household members were sick on an average of 12 days in the last rainy season. To remedy these health complaints, only a few of the respondents (13) said that they obtained free medicine from the barangay health center. Most of them spent for medicines and health care ranging from P20 pesos to P12,000 (P1,930, on the average but the median was P200, suggesting a wide socio-economic variability among the households). The respondents from Navotas, Malabon, Marikina, and Pasig (P4544, P2575, P3947, respectively) seem to have much higher health expenditures compared to those in Taguig (P429). Understandably, the respondents from Taguig City (West Mangahan river basin), who mostly, had lower income and education levels also spent the lowest in medical expenses (average of P241 - P350) as they did not have money to spare for the treatment of their sick household members. They also reported that they resorted to traditional healers or they just rest and let time heal their health complaints. Ironically, those households near the Napindan Channel in Taguig had higher risks to floods but also had the least resources to pay for medicines/health care. Among those who were absent from work/school, they reported that they could not get out of their place nor could they cross the river or streets and find transport to their schools or place of work. During floods, the transport available (non-motorized tricycles and pedi-cabs) were not only few but also charged higher fares (sometimes the driver will charge double/triple the usual fare, say P20 for P50 pesos tricycle fare). For those, who were unable to pursue their work or livelihood, they said that business slowed down during floods or it was impossible to vend or pursue their work and livelihood during high monsoon rains, typhoons, or floods. Some of the respondents 14

also choose not to leave their homes when floods or high tidal surges occur because they worry about their household appliances or clothes/garments getting wet, destroyed or stolen. On the average, they lost from 1 to 15 days (average, 4 days) and mean income loss of about P925 (but median income loss was P500) during floods or tidal surges when they could not go to work. Whether they work inside their house, within/outside the barangay or city, they were still negatively affected by the typhoons and floods. If working inside their houses, their work gets disrupted because of the dirty waters that reach their house floors. If working outside, they could not get out of their house, street or get transportation to their place of work. Of those who were not able to work or pursue their livelihood activities, they reported losing earnings, ranging from P98 pesos to P2,000 (average of P1081; median of P500) in the last rainy season. Aside from losses in earnings, the respondents also reported losses or damages to their household appliances (refrigerator, TV, washing machine, bed mattress, cabinet or house furniture, radio, electric fan, water dispenser, etc.) or their houses or parts of it destroyed (e.g., roof blown away, stairs or other parts need repair). The costs of these household assets and repairs ranged from P2 pesos to P50,000, but the average loss of the households was P4,615 in the last rainy season. Absences from School. The parents in the study complained that their children also suffered from the monsoon rains, typhoons, and floods. Quite a number of their children (about one-third) had to be absent from their classes, thus, affecting negatively their academic performance as they were absent 5 days, on the average, in the last rainy season. Among the communities surveyed, the respondents from Napindan and Calzada from Taguig City reported the most number of days (7) that their children were absent from school while those from Longos, Malabon reported the least (1.5 days). The latter does not seem to suffer much from floods compared to those near the Napindan Channel and Laguna de Bay in Taguig City. Effects of Tidal Surges. In the KAMANAVA and West Mangahan areas, tidal surges occur quite regularly and the respondents reported that they got sick from the rising cold waters that sometimes reach their floors, preventing them from having proper sleep or rest. When this happens, they ³evacuate´ their garments and other household things to the higher parts of the house. Since most of their houses are made of makeshift materials, they often get wet as well, especially when the storm surges are accompanied by heavy rains. These risks make them quite susceptible to getting fever/colds, skin allergies, and diarrhea from being wet from the surging waters that often carry dirt and debris into their households, often polluting their water sources as well. Also, the women complained that during floods and tidal surges, their work increases with sick children to take care of, more laundry to wash, and the house needing more cleaning. Ironically, during this time water and food becomes more expensive as well. Almost one-half of the respondents reported that they were unable to work because they could not get out of their house, cross the street, or obtain transport to school or to their place of work or business. For those unable to go to school, they missed an average of 1-2 days per month because of tidal surges. They also reported having lost from P150-P12,000 per month (median loss of P500 per month) because they were absent from work or were unable to pursue their business or livelihood activities. Majority of those who reported losses were working or having their business activities outside the barangay. They also reported that their appliances have been 15

destroyed (e.g., refrigerator, washing machine) during high tidal surges. The cost of these lost or destroyed household assets ranged from P98 to P7,500 (average of P4,333) during the last rainy season. The residents of KAMANAVA (proximity to Manila Bay¶s SLR) and West Mangahan (near Laguna Lake, receives the end flow of the Pasig River from Manila Bay as well as inundation of rains) feel strongly the effects of sea level rise through tidal/storm surges. For example, the residents in Bagumbayan South in Navotas said that in the previous years the water in their yard would only reach up to their knees but in the recent storm/tidal surges the water would up reach to their waists. Compounding their problem is the installation of a diversion pump (called ³bombastic´) in the next barangay, which has made flooding in the area much worse than before. About half of the respondents in the KAMANAVA area reported that their children were absent during days of high tidal surges because they could not get out of their houses, cross the street, or obtain proper transport to their school. Of those who own appliances like refrigerator, electric fan, gas/electric stove, slightly over one-fifth (21 percent) complained that their appliances got destroyed, became rusty, or were carried away by the flood or by tidal/storm surge in the last rainy season. The average cost of these losses amounted to P20,000. Insecurity of their housing structures and tenure is central to the risk and vulnerability suffered by residents. Because of the seeming temporariness of their residence in the area, the materials and the manner of construction of their houses seem quite temporary/make-shift despite their long residence in the area. These housing arrangements make them highly prone to the effects of tidal/storm surges and floods. Composite Characteristics of Households with High Levels of Vulnerability. Who are the most vulnerable to impacts of climate change? To start with, all the surveyed households already have a high level of social and environmental vulnerability given the following characteristics: 1) All live in low-lying and/or swampy/wetlands, which are vulnerable to heavy rains, floods, and storm/tidal surges; 2) Have monthly median incomes of P8,000 or less than US$1 per person/per day for family/household of six members; 3) Most of them live in slum/squatter settlements with no security of tenure in their housing and no adequate source of water, electricity, health, drainage and sanitation services; 4) Two-thirds regularly suffer losses (e.g., income, health, household appliances/garments/things, housing repair, absences from school; 5) A third of these households have no potable water and toilets and could not use it during typhoons, floods, and storm/tidal surges and they to resort ³wrap and throw´ method or use their neighbors¶ toilets; 6) Of the two-thirds who get regularly affected from the impacts of climate change, only a small portion (3 percent to 23 percent) of them received help, both formal (3 percent to 6 percent) and informal (15 percent to 24 percent) sources of support; 16

This study concludes that two-thirds regularly suffer losses from climate changerelated risks but the bottom third of the surveyed population have very high levels of environmental and social vulnerability as well as high level of social exclusion from their larger community and the local government unit (no access to relief and rehabilitation services both from formal and informal sources). Compounding this high level of vulnerability and exclusion is that quite a number of them (38 percent), only have cohabitation/live-in arrangements with their spouses (20 percent), or are single (4.3 percent), and widowed/separated (24 percent). A lot of children born of couples in livein arrangements do not obtain proper birth certificates because mothers prioritize food expenses over birth registration fees as they do not see the importance of legal identity papers in accessing formal services like schooling or health services. These mothers sometimes are also embarrassed to seek reproductive health services because they are not married. Formal institutions often ask for marriage certificates when giving assistance or services (e.g., applying for reproductive health services, housing/land acquisition support). Meanwhile, those households headed by widows/widowers, separated or singles need a lot of subsistence support but their support networks are also very thin and unable to provide this basic support. While all of them are highly vulnerable, about two-thirds of them suffered losses (e.g., income, work, health/sickness, household appliances/things, housing damage) from typhoons, floods, and tidal/storm surges but only a small portion of them obtained help from formal institutions (e.g., local government units or LGUs, charitable agencies) and informal support networks (relatives/neighbors/friends). The bottom third of these households appeared more vulnerable and consistently incurred higher losses (e.g., income, workdays, housing) and intense inconveniences (e.g., water source buried by floods, toilets blocked and overflowed with wastes/large worms to their floors) compared to the other two-thirds of the households or ³betteroff´ neighbors. Table 3. Summary of Losses/Inconveniences Due to Floods and Tidal Surges (last flood) Effects on Basic Services y Clogged sewage, drainage and toilets; have to use neighbor¶s toilet or resort ³to wrap and throw´ to the river/creek Brown-outs, grounding of electric lines and appliances Water become murky, dirty and unpotable Increase in costs of potable water from suppliers, with those in West Mangahan paying about 100-300 percent more

y y y

Loss of appliances y Average of P4615 with West Mangahan and Maybunga floodway incurring more with average loss of P10,000 and P20,000


respectively Transport costs (pedicab, styrofoam boats,tri-cycles) y Usual cost of P10-30/per person double or triple depending on distance and depth of water Absences from school y 1-7 days with children from Mangahan floodway incurring the most absences

Health and Income Loss y y 2-98 workdays lost from sickness due to floods 1-15 days workdays (ave. 4 days) lost due to floods or about P925P1081 income loss P200-350 spent on medicines (West Mangahan spent less as they did not have money for medical services; just rested to get well and losing more)


Their average cost for medicines seem small because most of the serious illnesses like dengue and leptospirosis are heavily subsidized (see actual costs below). Table 4. Cost of Health Services Provide Health Center/Public Hospital Service Estimated Cost PhP300-500 up to 1,500 1. Ordinary check-up PhP750-1,500 2. Sputum analysis/check-u[ PhP35,000-60,000 3. Dengue (referred to public hospitals where patient pay minimal payment)* PhP10,000-50,000 4. Leptospirosis (referred to public hospitals where patient pay minimal payment or free)* Services given pro-bono or charge minimally to urban poor by medical missions 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Blood analysis Urine analysis Blood typing ECG X-ray Physical Exam A (including Blood Chem, Blood typing and ECG) P2320 = PhP750-3,200 P90 = P700 P90 = P700 P90 = P1,500 ± 2,500 P90 =P500 P490 = P2,500


As shown in the above table, it costs more (in terms of health, transport, household appliances, basic services) to live in environmentally vulnerable places like riverlines and swampy/wetlands in flood basins. The potential of moving up economically over time is quite nil because of social and economic losses, perhaps reproducing poverty across generations. The intensification of their poverty due to the environmental vulnerability of their places is evidenced by the bottom 30 percent of the respondents who happened to come from the wetland areas of Mangahan Floodway and riverlines along Napindan Channel. Relocation as an option also make them lose their jobs and networks in nearby factories and workplaces.

To conclude, those who suffered more losses (i.e., property, work days, life) were those who suffered most often from flooding (i.e., living near the edges of riverlines and marshy/swampy areas) and in terms of income mostly belong to the bottom third of the sample urban poor population.Gender and Climate Change: How are the practical and strategic needs of men/women along vulnerable riverlines get affected by climate change-related effects? The survey showed that the after-effects of floods and typhoons appropriate more the time, energy, and money of women compared to men. Because of floods, women spend more time and energy in doing laundry, cleaning their homes, and taking care of sick members while men spent more time repairing their homes and household appliances. Women bear a lot of the effects of climate change because they have to attend to the demands of hygiene and household management and close monitoring of children who want to play in the rain and might drown in the floods. During rainy seasons, mothers said they could not sleep in peace for fear that the flood waters may reach their floors or they may have to evacuate. For the women respondents, floods make family and household management tasks more timeconsuming and worrisome. IV. Coping Mechanisms/Survival Strategies: The Pragmatics of Vulnerability

The environmental degradation of their communities and social contexts of the urban poor do not really leave them much choice but to adapt to their circumstances. Being constantly flooded and living in water-logged places, have lead them to craft a ³water-based lifestyle´. To protect their houses from floods or rising waters in the case of tidal surges, they raise and strengthen the posts/floors of their houses or if their finances allow it, they increase the number of floors in their homes. So when floods come, they just move their things or activities to the second or third floor of the house. In some places in KAMANAVA, they have abandoned the ground floor because of constant floods or rise of waters due to tidal surges. Among the informal settlers in the swampy areas near the Napindan Channel, and KAMANAVA area, they have built makeshift bridges of wooden planks or bamboo poles to walk across houses, go out to the main roads or cross the other side of the river to work or go to school. In the KAMANAVA areas, they build plastic and styrofoam boats for transport; they also have built higher body/wheels for their pedicabs/tricyles for transport during floods and tidal surges. Some residents have tied string lines (with a pulley system) from one house to the other to send foodstuff 19

from the ³sari-sari´ stores to houses nearby. For those who can afford, rubber boots have become part and parcel of their apparel to protect themselves during floods that are below knee-deep but useless for floods that sometimes reach waist-deep. They also have devised platforms for their appliances that they can just raise then floods or storm surges will come. To protect their clothes and other household belongings, they store them in boxes/cartons/baskets that can be raised to their ceilings by make-to-do string pulleys tied to their house posts or walls. This does not prevent their garments to be attacked by mildew and often lead to early destruction of their clothes. To protect their footwear, they wade the floodwaters barefoot and wear them when they reach dry land but this strategy also put them at risk to the deadly leptospirosis or other infections. In terms of livelihood, they have maximized their environment by planting water cress along the flood lines or work in water cress farms for wages like those in Mangahan floodway. Some men also gather water hyacinth stems for sale to flower shops while the women dry them for sale to handicraft makers. During flooding season along the Napindan Channel near Laguna Lake, the men go fishing for the fish that have overflowed from the nearby fishponds and sell it in the makeshift open market that they have made under C-6 bridge in Mangahan. Floods also offer opportunities to earn more as pedi-cab drivers, tricycles jack up their prices 200-300 percent (from P10 to P50 depending on depth/distance) during this time. This is also true for laborers who volunteer to carry/transport people or heavy household appliances across floodwaters. In preparing for typhoons and floods, residents along riverlines have quite a short repertoire of strategies for these emergencies such as: (1) storing foodstuff and other basic needs like water, (2) making sure that they have flashlights, batteries, candles for the eventual brown-outs during floods, (3) making sure that their belongings are packed ready for moving, and (4) reinforcing their homes. Although a third of the respondents said that they pack a few things in case they have to leave, only 10 percent would evacuate or move when the flood waters will come. They reasoned that they are afraid their belongings (including planks from their houses) will be stolen if they leave their homes. When queried about relocation as an option for them to avoid these losses, most of them rejected this option as most relocation sites were far from their place of work, have no basic services and have high mortgage payments compared to their current residence which cost them almost nothing. Most of the residents said they have gotten used to the constant flooding in their premises or the rise of water during high tides and storm surges in the case of residents in nearby coastal lines like the communities in the KAMANAVA areas. They said they are used to their ³water-based lifestyle´. Prior to Ondoy, they reasoned that, ³Hindi ka naman namamatay dahil sa baha´ (You do not die from floods or the rising waters here!). After the loss of lives during Ondoy, however, they now take more precautions. But in general, the crafting of water-based lifestyles in response to critical events like floods seemed to have been ³naturalized´ or ³normalized´ by the urban poor. As one respondent quipped, ³we are forever in an evacuation mode!´


Availability of Support Networks During Floods and Storm/Tidal Surges. When asked what kind of support they received from their relatives, neighbors, friends and community officials, the respondents seemingly exhibited a high level of selfreliance or self-insurance. About a third of the respondents consistently say that they try to solve the problems themselves. Only a small portion (range of 3 - 24 percent) of the respondents said that they received support from their support networks. This data highlights the vulnerability of the urban poor households as they do not seem to have institutional sources of support. Among the few who were able to get support from their relatives, friends and they said they borrowed money for food/subsistence, neighbors, medicine/hospitalization, and school expenses. They also asked their relatives and friends or neighbors to watch over their houses, their things or their children during floods, typhoons, and river/sea surges. More importantly, the interviews from the key informants revealed that the poor and vulnerable households do not really have a wide network of relatives and neighbors/friends who can provide support nor are they able to access much support from formal institutions like the health clinic or social work department of the local government unit. So, the seeming self-reliance or self-insurance among the poor actually reflects the thinness of their social capital or social networks that they can rely in times of calamities. Summary of Adaptations and Costs (A Water-based Lifestyle)


Government Programs

To minimize the devastating effects of floods, typhoons, and sea level rise on people, resources, and infrastructure, both national and local government units in the three flood plains of Metro Manila have formulated mitigation and/or adaptation strategies. The list includes (1) flood control program, (2) construction and repair of drainage system, (3) water-diversion pumps, and (4) disaster and relief programs, to mention the most visible of the programs. The flood control program of the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) have constructed flood walls, dikes, and pumping stations along certain portions of the floodways and riverlines of the Pasig-Marikina River, Napindan Channel , and Tullahan River in the KAMANAVA area (Kalookan, Malabon, and Navotas). Meanwhile, the local government units (LGUs) of Taguig (West Mangahan), Navotas, Malabon, and Caloocan (KAMANAVA area) have installed water pumps or water-diversion techniques known locally as ³bombastic´ which have minimized flooding in some areas. They have also fixed, in part, their drainage and road systems continue to be done by national and local governments (e.g., Marikina, Taguig), which also have helped in diminishing the flooding in some areas.


Recently, the National Disaster Coordinating Council lodged under the Department of National Defense has been reorganized as the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) with the Dept. of Interior and Local Governments at its helm. This is to maximize the resources and initiatives of both the national agencies and local government units, under a decentralized regime. In addition to the above initiatives, most government agencies usually organize relief and rehabilitation efforts by distributing food, water and other basic needs after floods. They also have community-based disaster warning systems implemented at the municipal and barangay levels. They also have increased their capacity to respond to disasters through training and drills. Among the local governments, Marikina City, initiated the following flood mitigation programs: (1) concreting of roads to reduce sand, pebbles and mud entering the drainage system, (2) construction and rehabilitation of major outfalls allowing flooded areas to recede faster, (3) massive dredging operations (to widen river systems) contributing to faster discharge from floodwaters in subdivisions into the creeks, (4) demolition/removal of obstructions produced by informal settlers along waterways; and (5) continued improvement to existing diversion channels and interceptors (Pacific Disaster Center, Sound Practice Note 3D). In addition, Marikina is the only local government in Metro Manila that has successfully cleared their waterways of major obstructions and resettled their informal settlers within the city. Recently, MMDA also launched the ³Flood Control Bayanihan Zones´ in floodprone areas in partnership with local governments and civil society organizations. This program is focused on clearing/dredging rivers, creeks, and other waterways and restore old floodways, in the hope of diverting flood inflow from the mountains to Mangahan Floodway towards Laguna Lake. With the exception of the ³bombastic´ initiative funded by local governments, most flood mitigation programs have been financed by loans or grants for overseas development assistance programs like World Bank, Japan Bank for International Cooperation. VI. Conclusions and Recommendations

This study documented how ecologically degraded environments and the urban poor households living in these vulnerable places are increasingly threatened by climate change hazards such as floods, heavy monsoon rains, typhoons and tidal surges/storms and regularly incur economic and social losses from these hazards. While the urban poor households have adapted to a ³water-based lifestyle´ in response to their living in flood-prone areas, their regular income losses from floods and the social and health costs of living in water-logged areas put them in a spiral of vulnerability and poverty. Aside from the above ecological and socio-economic vulnerabilities that contribute to the deepening of poverty among flood-prone households, larger forces such as rapid urbanization, population congestion and not so well calibrated investments in infrastructural development, inconsistent urban policies and programs land use and


building practices, to mention a few, have compounded the effects of climate change hazards on the poor in cities. The above findings point strongly to integrating the ecological-environmentalspatial dimensions of communities and cities into the physical and socio-political (especially the governance dimensions) aspects of urban panning and development. This also points to calibrating and reconciling political-administrative territories with ecological/environmental boundaries in allocation of resources and investments. A ³water-sensitive´ urban design must be integrated in the revision of the land use and building practices for climate change-proofing and adaptation, e.g., the development and restoration of green spaces, infrastructure, technologies, and architecture to reduce flood-related risks in the highly built environment of cities. More importantly, the above initiatives must take into considerations the vulnerabilities of urban poor households along gender, ethnic/migrant, and age to diminish the reinforcing power of social hierarchies.

References ADB. 2010. Poverty in the Philippines: Causes, Constraints and Opportunities. Balisacan, A. 1994. Poverty, Urbanization, and Development Policy: A Philippine Perspective. Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press. Bankoff, G. 2003. Constructing Vulnerability: The Historical, Natural and Social Generation of Flooding in Metropolitan Manila, Disasters, 2003, 27(3): 95±109 Bauer, A. 2008. The Environments of the Poor: New Perspectives on Development Programs. Powerpoint presentation in the 13th Poverty and Environment Meeting, Manila, Philippines, June 2008. Manda, E., 2008, The case of Laguna de Bay Basin in the Philipines, PPT presentation in Water and Climate Change Adaptation in Asian River Basins, Dec. 1-5, Selangor, Malaysia. Magno-Ballesteros, M. 2000. Land Use Planning in Metro Manila and the Urban Fringe: Implications on the Land and Real Estate Market. Discussion Paper Series No.2000-20. Muto, M., et al. (2009). Impacts of Climate Change Upon Asian Coastal areas: The case of Metro Manila. Research report of the Japan International Cooperation Agency. Porio, Emma (2010). Climate Change, Governance and Sustainability of Cities. Paper presented in the ISA World Congress of Sociology, Gothenburg, Sweden, July 12-17, 2010. __________ (2009). Social and Ecological Vulnerability of Urban Poor Communities in Metro Manila: Information Needs, Opportunities and Constraints. Powerpoint Presentation, Cities at Risk Conference, Bangkok, Feb 26-28. ___________(2008), Vulnerability, Adaptation and Resilience to Climate Change-Related Effects Among the Riverine Urban Poor Communities in Metro Manila. Research report submitted to JICA Research Institute.


Webster, Douglas, Arturo Corpuz, and Christopher Pablo. 2002. Towards a National Urban Development Framework for the Philippines: Strategic Considerations. A report prepared for the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), Government of the Philippines. World Bank (2010). Climate Risks and Adaptation in Asian Coastal Cities: A Synthesis Report. Washington DC.

Floods are increasingly intensified and localized in terms of causes and effects (Sehmi, 1989). Flood events in Southeast Asian cities are compounded by watershed deforestation and land subsidence. Encroachment on flood plains, high population density, inadequate solid waste disposal and inefficient management of the city¶s infrastructure aggravate most inundation events (Djihad, 1990). Rapid economic development, unprecedented expansion of urban centers and the phenomenal urban population increase, that is about three percent per annum, further worsen the flood problems in Southeast Asian cities (Lindfield, 1990). Constrained by landlessness, unemployment, underemployment and poverty, they have to face the problem of yearly inundation on the flood plains where their shanties are illegally built. Flood hazards in these urban poor communities result in thousands of deaths due to drowning. They also suffer from direct injuries, diseases and widespread famine. (ADB 2003, Metro Manila Solid Waste Mangement Project. AEA Technology Final report. 69 pages.


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