Cities Development Initiative Newsletter

USAID Mission Director Susan K. Brems (center) with the governors, mayors and provincial representatives from USAID’s Be Secure areas.

USAID's flagship water security program culminates during World Water Day 2017 celebration

The U.S. Embassy in the Philippines’ United States Agency for International Development (USAID) joined the Philippine Government in commemorating World Water Day by highlighting the success of their partnership, which increased access to safe water and sanitation in the Visayas and Mindanao regions. A close-out ceremony that celebrated this success was held in Makati City.

USAID and the Philippines Department of Public Works and Highways implemented a 4-year partnership that promoted good governance, improved access to water and sanitation, and enhanced resilience to variances in weather and climate trends in the cities of Cagayan de Oro, Iloilo, Zamboanga and in the provinces of Basilan, Maguindanao and Leyte.

“Through our partnership with the Philippine government, more than 1.3 million Filipinos have gained access to improved sanitation and over 1.5 million more now have access to safe and clean drinking water,” said U.S. Ambassador Sung Kim in his keynote address during the finale ceremony of USAID’s Water Security for Resilient Economic Growth and Stability (Be Secure) Project.

Ambassador Kim noted that wastewater, which is this year’s theme for world water day, is a key issue supported by the U.S. government in the Philippines. He stressed the importance of wastewater treatment to economic growth, health and quality of life. He also highlighted the achievements of Isabela, Tacloban, Zamboanga, Ormoc, Cotabato and Iloilo to effectively address the need for wastewater treatment.

In her message, Senator Loren Legarda highlighted Filipinos’ important role in ensuring long-term water security.

“Today, on World Water Day, we are again reminded that we are the stewards of the Earth, not here to exploit, but to sustainably manage our natural resources. Just as it is our right to access clean water, it is also our responsibility to ensure that the well never runs dry," said Sen. Legarda.

During the ceremony, USAID also awarded warranties to Maguindanao Governor Esmael Mangudadatu for water systems for ten schools and health clinics, which were designed to withstand future typhoons and floods.

Local chief executives and water district general managers from USAID’s partner cities shared their experiences on improving water security. In the past four years, USAID supported these cities to improve access to water supply and sanitation, land use and water utility business plans, and management of water demand.

The USAID’s $21-million water security project worked with national government agencies, local governments, water utilities, private sector, media, non-governmental organizations and academic institutions. It was launched in 2013 and, having achieved its objectives, will officially close in July 2017.

USAID and partners build energy resilience in Isla Verde

More than 300 households in Barangay San Agapito in Isla Verde, Batangas City will soon have power with the use of renewable energy and an autonomous micro-grid system, as a result of collaboration of USAID with the local government and the private sector.

Isla Verde is located at the center of the globally critical Marine Coral Triangle between Luzon and the island of Mindoro. It has no access to light and power, and most households resort to using kerosene lamps.

The solar photovoltaic micro-grid system is also expected to supply the needed electricity to boost economic activities such as ice production, food processing, operation of resorts and other tourism facilities, and also power for water supply services.

The micro-grid system is part of the Isla Verde Micro-Grid Energy Resilience Project. The feasibility study was completed in 2015 with assistance from USAID.

The project was launched on March 2, 2017 in Barangay San Agapito with a groundbreaking ceremony where USAID's Building Low Emission Alternatives to Develop Economic Resilience and Sustainability (B-LEADERS) Project brought partners together for the momentous event.

(L-R) Ferdinand Geluz of Meralco, Dani Newcomb of USAID, Congressman Marvey Mariño and Mayor Beverley Dimacuha of Batangas City, Victor Chan of SunPower, and Chairman Edmar Rieta of Barangay San Agapito during the groundbreaking ceremony of the Isla Verde Micro-Grid Energy Resilience Project. 

(L-R) Ferdinand Geluz of Meralco, Dani Newcomb of USAID, Congressman Marvey Mariño and Mayor Beverley Dimacuha of Batangas City, Victor Chan of SunPower, and Chairman Edmar Rieta of Barangay San Agapito during the groundbreaking ceremony of the Isla Verde Micro-Grid Energy Resilience Project. 

The City Government and the constituents of Barangay San Agapito secured the land needed for the project, SunPower Philippines donated 615 units of solar photovoltaic modules equivalent to 200 kilowatts of combined power generation capacity, while the Manila Electric Company (Meralco) started mobilizing for the construction of the electricity distribution network. USAID has contributed a portion of the solar modules and will further provide the power management and storage components along with support for community education on energy resilience and environmental awareness.

The micro-grid project is being implemented to complement efforts in protecting natural resources and at enhancing local energy sufficiency and resilience in a small island community. The construction of the project is expected to be completed within one year.

U.S. Ambassador to Philippines Sung Kim (top row, 6th from left) joined the principal investigators from universities receiving STI research grants from USAID.

Universities in Cagayan de Oro and Iloilo among new USAID research grantees

On March 17, 2017, USAID awarded ten research scholarships and 37 grants in science, technology and innovation as part of its continuing support to push for innovation-led and inclusive growth in the Philippines.

The grants and scholarships were awarded by USAID’s Science, Technology, Research, and Innovation for Development (STRIDE) Program, which works to stimulate inclusive economic growth by boosting science and technology research.

U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim, who graced the event, personally acknowledged the individual scholars and the research grant recipients. The awards included 24 P5 million ($100,000), one-year research grants to Philippine universities to undertake collaborative research with U.S. universities or a local industry, on disciplines that contribute to high-growth sectors such as electronics, chemical industries, alternative energy, agri-business, and information technology.

Five universities in two CDI partner cities were among the recipients of the research grants: Xavier University and the University of Science and Technology of Southern Philippines in Cagayan de Oro City in Northern Mindanao; and Iloilo Science and Technology University, University of San Agustin, and University of the Philippines-Visayas Foundation, Inc. in Iloilo City in Central Visayas.

USAID also funded ten prototype development research grants valued at P1.15 million ($23,000) each, and three innovation development grants that address human development challenges valued up to P4 million ($80,000) each.

U.S. Ambassador visits Zamboanga City

On March 16, 2017, U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim visited Zamboanga City in Western Mindanao and met with Mayor Ma. Isabelle Climaco, and affirmed the U.S. Government's intent to continuously support Zamboanga City through various projects implemented by USAID.

The courtesy call kicked off with welcome honors by the Zamboanga City Police and was capped by a short briefing at the Zamboanga City Hall conference room with discussions centering on cooperation.

Zamboanga is one of the first cities that the envoy visited outside of Metro Manila since his assumption in office in September 2016. Zamboanga City is a partner of USAID under its Cities Development Initiative (CDI), aimed to advance the city’s inclusive, environmentally sustainable resilient growth. (Story contributed by Zamboanga City Public Information Office)

USAID and Western Mindanao State University launch first Professional Science Master's program in Zamboanga City

On March 20, 2017, the Western Mindanao State University (WMSU) and USAID's STRIDE Program launched the first-ever Professional Science Master's program in Zamboanga City.

The Professional Science Master's is an innovative graduate degree program designed to provide students with advanced education in science and engineering, while simultaneously developing business, management and other workplace skills highly valued by employers.

The STRIDE Program conducted a series of trainings and consultations on curriculum development, in collaboration with Permex Corporation, a local producer and exporter of canned sardines and tuna products.

The Professional Science Master's in Food Processing and Management will train professional food scientists specializing in technical areas of nutrition, microbiology, food processing and packaging. It will also give them an opportunity to experience real-world issues in the Philippine food industry – specifically, manufacturing operations, supply chain analysis, market analysis, and sustainability in the processing of sardines and tuna products.

Present during the launch were WMSU President Dr. Mirabel Enriquez-Ho; Permex Corporation's Plant Manager Engr. Edgar Lim; USAID/STRIDE Chief of Party Dr. Dave Halland; Faculty and Institutional Development Manager Dr. Leo Abenes; and representatives from the regional Department of Science and Technology and from the local government.

Batangas City uses technology for climate-resilient planning

Personnel from the Batangas City Government are now well-versed in digital mapping and geographic information system, which are enabling them to make plans to support climate-resilient growth area development.

Twenty local government personnel involved in vulnerability assessment and planning gained these knowledge and skills from a training conducted by the SURGE Project on March 8 to 10, 2017. They learned how to use the Open Street Map, which provides geographic and infrastructure data on an editable open-source map. They also identified critical infrastructure, settlements and production areas to enhance the city’s development and disaster preparedness. Data sets from the different offices or departments will be consolidated, and the city government will collaborate with the academe to fast-track database creation.

Batangas City celebrates World Water Day

On March 27, 2017, Batangas City in Southern Luzon and USAID's SURGE Project also commemorated World Water Day 2017 with a forum on sustainable and resilient water and sanitation.

More than 170 representatives from the local government, USAID and Rural Waterworks and Sanitation Associations (RWSAs) participated in the forum, which served as a venue to call for a collective action to improve water quality, sanitation practices and treatment of wastewater in the city.

Resource speakers from the City Health Office, Department of Health, Maynilad Water Academy and National Water Resources Board talked about the water and sanitation situation in Batangas. They also discussed water resource management, sustainable sanitation strategies, capacity development and septage management. At the end of the forum, the City Government and its partners agreed to work together to address challenges such as competing use of water supply, improving water quality, households with no sanitary toilets and the absence of a city-wide wastewater treatment facility. It is important to attain RWSAs' cooperation and representation to the proposed city's septage management technical working group to improve Batangas' water services and access to basic sanitation.

Tagbilaran businesses and schools learn basic GHG inventory

The business community and academic institutions of Tagbilaran City in Central Visayas learned the basics of greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory--from the calculating emissions, setting of base year and emission reduction targets, managing data systems and reporting--to contribute to the city's efforts to promote energy efficiency.

A private sector representative learned how to calculate GHG emissions from fuel use and electricity consumption during a GHG inventory training in Tagbilaran City. 

A private sector representative learned how to calculate GHG emissions from fuel use and electricity consumption during a GHG inventory training in Tagbilaran City. 

Twenty-five representatives from hotels, restaurants, malls, small and medium enterprises, and schools learned these skills while participating in a hands-on GHG inventory training organized by USAID's Building Low Emission Alternatives to Develop Economic Resilience and Sustainability (B-LEADERS) Project on March 29 to 30, 2017 in the city. The training is part of a series of activities as B-LEADERS continues to support Tagbilaran City’s initiatives to implement low emission development strategies. The output from the training will serve as baseline data for the business sector’s share in the city’s community-level GHG inventory.

The active partnership among Tagbilaran City’s Climate Change Committee, the Bohol Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Bohol Association of Hotels, Resorts and Restaurants aim at helping businessmen identify mitigation options to reduce energy or operational costs, enhance competitive advantage, and attract more investors.

Cities Development Initiative partner cities join global celebration of Earth Hour

The U.S. Agency for International Development's (USAID) Cities Development Initiative (CDI) partner cities joined the global commemoration of the Earth Hour on March 25, 2017. The cities of Batangas, Cagayan de Oro, General Santos, Iloilo, Legazpi, Puerto Princesa, Tagbilaran and Zamboanga held various activities on the night of March 25, from switching off lights and lighting candles between 8:30-9:30 p.m., to holding gatherings and organizing a bikeathon.

USAID’s Strengthening Urban Resilience for Growth with Equity (SURGE) Project participated in the activities organized by the city governments in partnership with the private sector, non-government organizations and academe.

General Santos City joined the Earth Hour celebration with a ceremonial switching off of an enormous light switch.

General Santos City joined the Earth Hour celebration with a ceremonial switching off of an enormous light switch.

Earth Hour is an annual celebration where millions around the globe set aside an hour to hold events calling for climate resilience. Over the years the Earth Hour movement has resulted in climate-friendly laws and policies.

Students in Zamboanga City lighted candles on the street during the Earth Hour. 

Students in Zamboanga City lighted candles on the street during the Earth Hour. 

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 with Equity, a White House initiated “whole-of-government” partnership between the U.S. Government and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines. The partnership aims to shift the Philippines to a sustained and more inclusive growth trajectory on par with other high‐performing emerging economies. Currently, USAID's partner cities include Batangas, Cagayan de Oro, Iloilo, Puerto Princesa, Tagbilaran and Zamboanga. Legazpi City in Albay, Southern Luzon and General Santos City in Southern Mindanao are the two new CDI cities.

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

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