Thank you everyone for your help during the ongoing Emergency in Manila. Over the past few days 1,000 volunteers have helped over 9,000 families in the Philippines The Skoll Foundation provided emergency funding to get the GK offices which had also been affected by the flooding up and running.

Some GK villages became relief centres. In Metro Manila the worst hit village was GK Brookside village. After Typhoon Ondoy houses in this village were reconstructed. The local government also made efforts to re-routewater courses in the area that cause the flash flooding, however due to the massive amounts of rain and the clogging of water ways due to garbage and debris that comes in from higher ground the flooding continues to occur in the centre of the village. The local government has already spent millions of pesos to address this major concern.

The Philippines is prone to natural disasters lying in an area which receives around 20 typhoons every year, around 5 to 9 of which hit land. The Philippines also has 300 volcanoes some of which are active and it is also located in an earthquake zone.

At the 4th annual GK summit held in Canada in June this year, GK Executive Director, Luis Oquienena said that the challenge for GK and the whole global community was how to rescue families before their lives are lost. At what point, he asked can governments be influenced to relocate families in to areas that will not be as badly affected.

Last week the Philippine Vice President, JejomarBinay announced that over 5,000 people who have been displaced by the floods would be immediately relocated to resettlement areas identified by the National Housing Authority (NHA). The aim is to transfer informal settlers from danger zones to medium rise buildings in safer areas in Metro Manila and in new town settlements. In the medium term the aim is to relocate 100,000 families who live along estuaries and waterways.

Informal settlers also live alongside railroad tracks, garbage dumps, pavements, roads, parks and playgrounds. It has been difficult for the government to find permanent resettlement areas.

As AusAID points out: “Residents of Metro Manila and its neighbouring provinces are particularly vulnerable to floods and other natural disasters because of complex issues with planning, construction and informal settlement that place poor people in hazard-prone areas and exacerbate the scale of destruction from disasters.

These issues include poor urban and land use planning; weak enforcement of building codes; drainage clogged with solid waste; encroachment of natural waterways by construction; insufficient spill-ways and flood-ways; and informal settlers forced to live in hazard-prone areas because of low access to safer and affordable housing.

The issues in Metro Manila also apply to other parts of the Philippines. It is one of the fastest urbanising countries in the region with 66 per cent of the total population now classified as urban dwellers”.

AusAID provides money through the BRACE program - Building the Resilience and Awareness of Metro Manila communities to Natural Disaster Impacts and it also works with Gawad Kalinga in the Philippines.

The Australian Government provided $2million in food and emergency supplies for the thousands of people left homeless by rising waters.

Gawad Kalinga is working with the Philippine government to achieve long-term holistic change.

Gawad Kalinga Australia thanks you for your ongoing support and your continued understanding of the complex issues that face the Philippines.

The Philippines Star, Families in danger zones to be relocated this week, August 15, 2012

Ausaid: Australia helps the Philippines brace for disaster, August 10, 2012

Australia and Philippines working together to reduce the Impacts of Natural Disasters, October 21, 2011