Cities Development Initiative Newsletter

Vice President Ma. Leonora "Leni" Robredo delivers her keynote speech.

Vice President Robredo attends U.S. Government International Conference on Urban Development

Recognizing the need to come up with practical solutions to urban growth challenges in the country, the U.S. Embassy Manila’s United States Agency for International Development (USAID) organized the 2016 International Conference on Urban Development, with the theme “Accelerating Resilience and Inclusive Growth,” at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza in Manila on July 12-13, 2016.

More than 1,200 international and local planning experts, policy makers, government officials, industry and business leaders, development players and students gathered to share knowledge, experience, and aspirations in shaping livable and resilient cities.

The event featured a range of presentations and panel discussions such as improving access to water and sanitation services, promoting social inclusion in urban environments, improving business climate for investments, addressing climate change and disaster risks, solving urban land tenure issues and fostering technological solutions for urban development, among others. Charles Landry, an international authority on the use of imagination and creativity in urban change, was the keynote speaker.

Panel on urbanization issues (l-r) Jesus Atencio, President and CEO of 8990 Holdings, Inc., Guillermo Luz, Private Sector Co-Chair of National Competitiveness Council, Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno, Charles Landry, and moderator Malou Tiquia, Founder of Publicus Asia Inc.

Vice President Ma. Leonor “Leni” Robredo and U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg attended the event. Ambassador Goldberg said, “With half of the Philippines’ population of more than 100 million living in cities, urban development presents a tremendous opportunity to pursue resilience and inclusive growth of secondary cities outside of Metro Manila, Cebu, and Davao.”

Vice President Robredo delivered the closing message and commended the U.S. Government for spearheading the conference. “It is our collective struggle to turn urbanization from a problem into an opportunity. We still have the chance of guiding our secondary cities’ urban development and address challenges like traffic, urban planning and housing before they become unmanageable,” said Vice President Robredo.

Watch the full speech here.

U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg welcomes Vice President Ma. Leonora "Leni" Robredo to the conference as USAID Mission Director Dr. Susan Brems looks on.

USAID Mission Director Dr. Susan Brems, in her opening remarks, stated, “The role that cities play in the Philippine economy, and in the world, is significant and growing. Cities are magnets of economic activity and prosperity, and are the primary drivers of investment and jobs – crucial elements to achieving broad-based, inclusive,and sustainable growth.”

In the Philippines, 75 percent of economic output is attributed to urban areas, focused primarily in the country’s more than 30 highly urbanized cities. “Much of the country’s growth is concentrated in and around Metro Manila. We need to expand and disperse economic opportunity across the country,” Dr. Brems said.

Watch the full speech here.

The conference aimed to foster a national level discussion on urban development and advocate for lawmakers and government officials, business and industry leaders, development organizations and urban planners to give utmost attention and work together in coming up with solutions to address urban growth challenges.

USAID, through its Cities Development Initiative (CDI), supports partner cities outside Metro Manila to fulfill their potential as engines of inclusive, environmentally sustainable,and resilient economic growth. At present, there are 6 CDI partner cities: Batangas and Puerto Princesa in Luzon, Tagbilaran and Iloilo in Visayas, and Cagayan de Oro and Zamboanga in Mindanao.

The conference was organized by USAID through its Strengthening Urban Resilience for Growth with Equity (SURGE) Project, together with the Department of the Interior and Local Government, the National Competitiveness Council, the United Nations Human Settlements Programme, and the World Bank.

SURGE is the flagship project of USAID’s Cities Development Initiative Program, a crucial component of the broader Partnership for Growth. Through the project, USAID assists cities and adjacent areas to plan effectively, guarantee basic public services, reduce business transaction costs, promote competitiveness, support sustainable development, and reduce disaster and climate change risks, while promoting inclusive and sustainable growth.

For more information about the conference presentations, please visit this link.

USAID provides gender sensitivity training to scientists

USAID, through the Science, Technology, Research and Innovation for Development (STRIDE) Program in collaboration with the Women and Gender Institute of Miriam College, initiated a series of gender awareness and sensitivity trainings on July 13, 2016 in Iloilo City and August 9, 2016 in Cagayan de Oro City. Research grantees funded under the two grants mechanisms of STRIDE, the Collaborative Applied Research with Industry (CARWIN) and the Philippine-U.S. Research Exchange (PURE), participated in the trainings.

Each workshop engaged 15 participants who are members of the research teams of grantees from the Iloilo Science and Technology University and University of the Philippines Visayas in Iloilo, and Xavier University in Cagayan de Oro.

The first phase of the training introduced the grantees to basic principles such as gender-sensitive language and gender roles at home and at work. The next phase of the initiative is a training of trainers to be provided to select grantees with the hope that they can sustain the effort in their universities. STRIDE is providing this training to help Filipino scientists identify and address gender issues in their fields to make their projects gender-responsive and inclusive.

STRIDE works closely with Philippine academic institutions and industries to transform their capacity to produce research, graduates, and innovation partnerships to accelerate development in the country.

USAID supports gender mainstreaming in the energy and tourism sectors

On June 29, 2016, USAID's Advancing Philippine Competitiveness (COMPETE) Project participated in the launch of the Department of Energy (DOE) Gender Toolkit for the Energy Sector. COMPETE Chief of Party Dr. Henry Basilio gave an address at the event, and stressed the message that true competitiveness in the Philippines can only be unlocked if the government supports policy that empowers all genders. His audience consisted of then-DOE Secretary Zenaida Monsada, The Asia Foundation Country Representative Dr. Steven Rood, Philippine Commission on Women Deputy Director for Operations Manuela Silva, Official Development Assistance-Gender and Development (ODA-GAD) Network Convenor Mercedes Cornejo of the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID), among others.

DOE also presented COMPETE with an award in appreciation for its intensive technical assistance to DOE in the development of the toolkit, which included the GAD Checklist for Energy Programs and Projects. The checklist is now part of the third edition of the Philippine government’s Harmonized Gender and Development Guidelines (HGDG). It is one of only three checklists in the HGDG that was developed by the implementing agency. The other two are the checklists for the fisheries sector and the tourism sector. The Department of Tourism’s GAD Checklist was also developed with the assistance of COMPETE and Global Affairs Canada.

The COMPETE technical assistance for DOE began in October 2014. It includes intensive work with the DOE GAD team in developing the gender analysis questionnaires, crafting and testing the GAD checklist, building the capacities within the DOE to formulate policies and plans, and design and implement programs and projects that will help achieve its GAD goals.

The series of capacity development activities facilitated by COMPETE culminated in the DOE’s Training of Trainers, which aimed to help DOE achieve its GAD goals and implement its GAD agenda by building a cadre of staff and officers who could serve as resource persons, advocates, trainers and mentors on the various parts of the DOE gender toolkit. COMPETE also helped prepare the DOE team in its presentation of the DOE gender toolkit in a side event of the 60th Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women. The side event entitled, “Women on Fire,” took place in March 2016.

Zamboanga City lauds USAID support

Zamboanga City Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco acknowledged the SURGE Project’s contribution to local economic development in her inauguration speech on June 30, 2016. City officials, members of the business community, academe, socio and civic groups witnessed the oath taking ceremonies. Mayor Climaco noted that Zamboanga City, along with the other CDI partner cities, have shown strong leadership that supports local growth and political stability. She also stressed the priorities of her administration during her speech. These include human security, health with particular attention to water services, education, local economic growth, energy and environment.

Youth leaders participate in interactive games and activities that educated them on LEDS during the youth camp.

Batangas City youth joins LEDS Camp

On July 19, 2016, USAID’s Building Low Emission Development Alternatives to Develop Economic Resilience and Sustainability (B-LEADERS) Project supported the City Government of Batangas in the holding of the first Low Emission Development Strategies (LEDS) Camp. The activity, which gathered more than 80 high school students who are officers of YES-O (Youth for the Environment in Schools Organization), promoted LEDS in public and private schools. The success of the #NOWPH (Not on Our Watch) campaign was highlighted during the camp and students were encouraged to participate in the ongoing campaign promoting LEDS. The youth officers also learned about leadership and public speaking skills, and participated in outdoor activities.

B-LEADERS aims to contribute to increasing climate change resilience and mitigation in the Philippines. With the multi-sectoral nature of climate change work, B-LEADERS gives high priority to community outreach and country-wide dissemination of vital information.

USAID Mission Director urges health providers to
help young parents have "DREAMS'

Speaking before participants at the Adolescent and Youth Reproductive Health (AYRH) Technical Conference recently held in Iloilo City, USAID Mission Director Dr. Susan Brems emphasized the need and urgency to address the reproductive health of adolescents, particularly teen parents. Dr. Brems urged more than 100 participants – mostly doctors, nurses and midwives engaged in AYRH from selected government hospitals in the Visayas Region, to help young women and young men have dreams. She gave this call based on the acronym DREAMS – Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS and pregnancy free if they don’t wish to be pregnant, Mentored by their peers, and Safe from harm.

“They (teen parents) need to make sure they know how their bodies work, how the body of the other sex works. They should have informed choice and give informed consent if they do decide to accept family planning," said Dr. Brems.

The AYRH Technical Conference provided a venue for sharing successes and lessons learned among the AYRH implementing partners, identify gaps and constraints in addressing AYRH issues, and identify measures to strengthen AYRH implementation. At the end of the conference, participants drafted action plans based on the discussions and recommendations in the sessions they attended.

Cagayan de Oro City’s youth activities feature interactive health conversations for young people

The USAID-developed interactive discussion sessions for young people, Usapang Barkadahan (loosely translated as discussion among friends) has been integrated into various youth activities in Cagayan de Oro City in northern Mindanao. Aimed at encouraging peer-to-peer interaction, Usapang Barkadahan aims to develop the youth’s basic social life skills and promote individual responsibilities. It provides young people venue to discuss teen problems, relationships, and reproductive health topics in a more relaxed and interactive way. After each Usapan session, trained health workers provide participants with psychosocial and health counseling or health services, as needed.

As part of its 12th Youth Month celebration, Cagayan de Oro City featured Usapang Barkadahan as the highlight of its series of out-of-school youth activities. With support from USAID, through its MindanaoHealth Project, the City Social Welfare and Development Office conducted 11 Usapang Barkadahan sessions and provided 178 young participants with information on sexual and reproductive health, HIV/AIDS, and consequences of risky behaviors like early sexual debut, alcohol drinking and cigarette smoking. Cagayan de Oro City's Health Office, on the other hand, has conducted more than 80 sessions of Usapang Barkadahan reaching around 1,800 young people, mostly in-school adolescents and youth.

Out of the 1,978 teens reached by Usapang Barkadahan sessions, 643 were identified as having risky behaviors and were counseled by trained health providers and guidance counselors. Those who needed other services that could not be provided on-site were referred to appropriate facilities by the City Health Office, which continuously follow up and track the referred clients to ensure that they actually go to the facilities they were referred to.

Construction Supervision Workshop in Iloilo City.

USAID helps neighboring towns of Iloilo City gain access to clean water

Access to water supply has been a long term challenge for Iloilo City and its neighboring municipalities. This is especially true for small water utilities that lack​ sufficient funds to expand their services into waterless barangays.

"Waterless" is defined by the Philippine National Government as those areas with less than 50 percent coverage. USAID, through the Water Security for Improved Economic Growth and Stability (Be Secure) Project, is addressing these challenges in Iloilo by helping small water utilities to access the Sagana at Ligtas na Tubig sa Lahat (SALINTUBIG or Abundant and Safe Water for All).

SALINTUBIG is a national grants program implemented by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) that fosters shared responsibility between the national government and local government units to provide water supply systems in waterless areas.

From May to July, Be Secure trained small water utilities how to prepare project proposals and detailed engineering designs needed to access SALINTUBIG funds. The series of activities culminated in a Construction Supervision Workshop held on July 26-28, 2016, which helped impart the knowledge and skills necessary to monitor and supervise water supply projects to ensure long-term, quality and sustainability.

Be Secure is increasing the sustainability by teaching water utilities integrate climate resilience in the siting and design of these water supply systems. To date, a total of $1.56 million of non-U.S. Government funds have been mobilized in Iloilo, with $1.53 million from SALINTUBIG and the rest from private and in-kind contributions.

This has helped over 13,000 people in the neighboring municipalities of Iloilo City gain access to clean drinking water. Complementing these initiatives is Be Secure's technical assistance to the Metro Iloilo Water District in pursuing a public-private partnership that will help expand access and improve efficiency of water supply services in Iloilo City.

USAID holds workshop series on right-sizing of fishing effort

USAID's Ecosystems Improved for Sustainable Fisheries (ECOFISH) project launched a series of multi-stakeholder workshops on "right-sizing of fisheries" in its 8 marine key biodiversity areas (MKBA). The workshops include discussions on the state of fisheries in MKBA, key fisheries issues including the threats to critical habitats like corals and mangroves, and management actions to address issues on overcapacity and illegal fishing. Examples of basic management actions are undertaking marine spatial planning and zonation, and developing metrics such as indices of ecosystem health as targets for management.

The second workshop was held in Tagbilaran City, Bohol on July 19-21, 2016, where representatives from nine local government units and selected national partners were introduced to the technical concepts comprising the Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management (EAFM) framework. Given the long history of coastal resources management work in municipalities along the Danajon Reef, it was clear to the participants that having marine protected areas (MPA), albeit having positive impacts, were not enough to address the dwindling fish populations they were experiencing. Right-sizing was thus easily accepted and understood to be the main initiative in tandem with MPAs to achieve sustainable fisheries in the long run.

USAID supports the recognition of the Philippines’ competitive cities and municipalities

The most competitive local governments from all over the Philippines were recognized during the 4th Regional Competitiveness Summit on July 14, 2016 in Pasay City. The National Competitiveness Council (NCC) and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) organized the Cities & Municipalities Competitiveness Index Awards with the support of USAID through its SURGE Project, and Globe Telecom. The event emphasized the pivotal role of competitive local government units in promoting the country as a business-friendly destination. NCC awarded USAID’s CDI partner Iloilo City as the top 3rd highly urbanized city in terms of government efficiency. During the award ceremony, DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez challenged cities to minimize red tape in government transactions and streamline their business permit processing time to one day to promote local entrepreneurship.

Cities Development Initiative

USAID is working to strengthen the economic competitiveness and resilience of secondary cities outside of Metro Manila through its Cities Development Initiative (CDI). The CDI seeks to advance the development of secondary cities as agents of growth that is inclusive, environmentally sustainable and resilient. Depending on the most urgent needs of the city, USAID provides a range of technical assistance, drawing from resources in economic growth, health, energy, environment, governance, and education to assist the cities achieve resilience and inclusive growth.

The CDI is a crucial component of the broader Partnership for Growth (PFG), a White House initiated “whole-of-government” partnership between the U.S. Government and the Government of the Philippines. The PFG aims to shift the Philippines to a sustained and more inclusive growth trajectory on par with other high‐performing emerging economies. Currently, USAID has 6 CDI partner cities: Batangas, Cagayan de Oro, Iloilo, Puerto Princesa, Tagbilaran and Zamboanga.

For more information on USAID's projects in the Philippines, click here.

Contact Us

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169 H.V. Dela Costa Street
Salcedo Village, Makati City
Philippines 1227
Tel. +632 88-SURGE (78743)


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