Cities Development Initiative Newsletter

The Cities Development Initiative Newsletter is featuring a year-end quarter issue to share the good news and success stories from the different partner cities.

USAID Mission Director Dr. Susan Brems delivers the keynote speech during the WaterLinks Forum 2016 in Makati City, Philippines.

USAID's water and sanitation work highlighted in WaterLinks Forum 2016

"USAID has been increasing access to water supply and sanitation, building resilience among local communities, and notably, finding the nexus between the two. In the three years, we have gained insights on how climate change is directly affecting the broad spectrum of water security–from sourcing water, to infrastructure and service provision, and finally the demand or consumption of water," said U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Mission Director Dr. Susan Brems during the WaterLinks Forum 2016 on October 6 to 7, 2016 in Makati City.

The WaterLinks Forum 2016 gathered about 300 operators, utilities, policymakers, thought leaders and other stakeholders from the water and sanitation sectors to discuss around the theme "Building Climate-Resilient Water Utilities”. This year's forum emphasized the urgent need to improve water security and resilience to avert future water crisis.

USAID Mission Director Dr. Susan Brems, in her keynote speech, highlighted the work of USAID’s Water Security for Resilient Economic Growth and Stability (Be Secure) Project in integrating climate resilience in water supply and sanitation in the cities of Iloilo, Tacloban, Cagayan de Oro, Zamboanga, Cotabato, and Isabela (Basilan). A few examples shared include the rehabilitation of Typhoon Haiyan-damaged water supply systems in Leyte, following the “build back better” principle; the promotion of water demand management as a strategy to maximize available water during periods of drought and water shortage; and the protection of water resources through better management of septage.

Highlighted as well is water operators’ partnership facilitated by WaterLinks under the Be Secure Project. Through the partnership, Be Secure’s partner local governments and water districts learned how to develop business and emergency response plans, forecast water demand and design more targeted water conservation programs, which they shared in the forum and pre-event workshops. The SURGE Project also participated in the forum and brought its local partners from three Cities Development Initiative (CDI) partner cities—Batangas, Puerto Princesa, and Tagbilaran.

USAID, the Asian Development Bank and the Global Water Operator Partnerships Alliance of UN-Habitat provide foundational support to WaterLinks which facilitates water operator partnerships in the Asia-Pacific region; implements regional capacity building programs to improve utility efficiency that can enhance and expand access to urban water and sanitation services; and conducts knowledge management and networking with regional partners.

Water finally a priority

“For several years our office was overwhelmed by a lot of setbacks,” admitted Engr. Peter D. Busano, Officer-in-Charge of the Tagbilaran City Waterworks System (TCWS) in Tagbilaran City in Bohol Province, Central Visayas.

The TCWS is an economic enterprise of the City Government serving the water needs of the city. Servicing only 38 percent of its concessionaires in ten of the city’s 15 barangays, the TCWS is unable to meet the average daily water demand of 6,008.47 m3. The rest are being serviced by private company Bohol Water Utilities Inc. TCWS also faces challenges such as erratic water pressure, saltwater intrusion and limestone containment. Busano is not even factoring in the losses due to non-revenue (wastage) water that is estimated at 26 percent, or 1,802 m3 per day.

For many years, the TCWS reported these difficulties – but was unable to do anything about them. Busano lamented, “All our funding is from the City Government. We submit our reports and requests, but it takes a long time to be processed. We have no control over our finances.”

With this challenge on water system management, USAID through its Strengthening Urban Resilience for Growth with Equity (SURGE) Project initiated work with the City Government to identify gaps and come up with immediate solutions.

On December 6, 2016, USAID Mission Director Dr. Susan Brems visited Barangay Taloto to hear water-related issues of local residents. These included infrequent water flow, low water pressure and lack of water supply caused by rationing or damaged equipment. The community members spend more resources to cope with these problems by adjusting their schedules to the rationing hours, acquiring tanks to store water and purchasing from private water utilities. Dr. Brems emphasized that solutions to these challenges must focus on the management and conservation of water with regards to the impacts of climate change.

The SURGE Project conducted a Business Planning Workshop in December to train City Government and TCWS staff how to better manage the water facility and its funds. According to Mayor Yap, water is among his main priorities for the next three years, and has earmarked PhP17 million (US$340,340) to invest in upgrading the existing waterworks system. This is the City Government’s first major investment in the utility since 2003.

Mayor Yap welcomed SURGE assistance in facilitating the creation of an integrated water systems improvement plan, and is also looking into improving the city's wastewater treatment facility.

Apart from Tagbilaran, SURGE is helping other CDI partner cities of Batangas and Puerto Princesa improve access to sustainable water supply and sanitation services.

“Thanks to the SURGE Project, water has taken center stage and is now getting the attention it deserves,” said Busano.

Meanwhile, USAID's CDI partner local governments and water districts from Iloilo, Cagayan de Oro and Zamboanga are now better equipped with skills to implement a comprehensive water efficiency and conservation program following a study visit to Seattle, Washington D.C. in the United States on November 14 to 18, 2016. As part of the Water Operator Partnership (WOP) with the Seattle Public Utilities (SPU), SPU mentored the water districts on disaggregating water consumption data to improve forecasting demand and designing an effective water conservation plan. The group also learned best practices in partnering with non-government agencies in rolling out an education campaign among schools, working with the private sector to promote water efficiency labelling, reducing non-revenue water and reusing reclaimed water.

The participants had the opportunity to visit SPU's Cedar River Watershed, which has limited public access, and learned about how SPU manages the watershed and its wildlife as well as the infrastructure to ensure long-term water security for over 600,000 residents of Seattle. The WOP is facilitated by the Be Secure Project through a subcontract with WaterLinks.

A home we can call our own

"When we have the land titles to our names, we will no longer be anxious. We will own the house and the land," said Zenaida Tambal, one of many survivors of the 2011 Typhoon Washi (Sendong) who resettled in Barangay Pagatpat, Cagayan de Oro City in Northern Mindanao.

Typhoon Washi is known to be one of the strongest typhoons ever hit the country, destroying homes and displacing thousands of families in Northern Mindanao.

Like many other residents who don’t have titles to their land, Tambal aspires to have a sense of security and pride with a titled lot she can truly call her own. Pagatpat is a small community where none of the land parcels are titled.

"We will have peace of mind. We can sleep soundly and have less things to worry about," she added.

Rene Salindato, the president of the Pagatpat Homeowners’ Association, shares the same sentiment. “Once we get our titles, hopefully, we can make our homes more beautiful,” he said.

On November 23 to 24, 2016, the SURGE Project helped more than 500 residents of two barangays in Cagayan de Oro City identify the land tenure status of their homes. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the City Government and SURGE conducted a rapid land tenure appraisal to determine the number and percentage of the titled and untitled land in Barangay Pagatpat, a relocation site for the typhoon survivors, and Barangay Tumpagon, an area vulnerable to the impact of illegal small-scale gold mining that was previously rampant in the area. To provide basic information on the land parcels and claimants, community members plotted their lots on the map and shared their supporting documents.

The SURGE Project will support the City Government establish and train a Systemic Adjudication Team that will validate these claims against DENR survey data and City Assessor’s records. By bringing the government’s titling procedures closer to the community, the project is improving the land tenure security and land information system in Cagayan de Oro and other CDI partner cities to encourage inclusive growth and local investments.

Traditional birth attendant Wanita Junairi (left) visits Nurisa, pregnant with her second child, at her home to check on her and provide information on safe motherhood, newborn care and family planning. Photo by Jhpiego

A newfound purpose for a traditional birth attendant

Traditional birth attendant Wanita Junairi used to assist deliveries of Badjao women at home oblivious of the serious risks that could unintentionally be inflicted by non-professional birth attendants like her. Wanita has since received training from a USAID program on maternal and child health.

USAID’s MindanaoHealth project with Jhpiego trained 21 traditional birth attendants, like Wanita, who belong to Badjao, an ethnic group in the southernmost islands in Mindanao. The birth attendants offer health education in the local dialect to Badjao families and refer pregnant Badjao women in Zamboanga City to nearby facilities for antenatal care, delivery and family planning services. In collaboration with the Department of Health Zamboanga Peninsula, Zamboanga City Health Office, and the local government units, the USAID-trained traditional birth attendants have provided key health messages to 50 Badjao pregnant teens from the Masepla Transitory Site and referred them to health facilities. One of them is Nurisa, a pregnant Badjao teen whom Wanita assists. Wanita accompanies Nurisa to a health facility for regular prenatal care visits. When Nurisa gives birth, it will be at the facility and with the assistance of a skilled attendant. But, Wanita will still be by Nurisa’s side for prayers and rituals as culturally practiced.

More women can look forward to a safer and more culturally accepted delivery with the help of traditional birth attendants, like Wanita, who has found new roles in assisting pregnant women.

Puerto Princesa and Tagbilaran take aggressive lead in investment promotion

Two CDI partner cities have taken the lead to pursue a more aggressive approach in investment promotion.

The City Government of Puerto Princesa in Palawan, Southern Luzon, launched its streamlined business permits and licensing system (BPLS) and Business One Stop Shop (BOSS) during the first MIMAROPA Investment Conference on November 8, 2016. The City Government, with support from the SURGE Project, went through a series of activities to identify and address gaps in its previous process which took about 6 days for new business permits and 5 days for renewals.

The improved BPLS and BOSS, dubbed “3Fs++ Service”, which stands for fast, focused, forwarding looking, fair and friendly, has cut down the processing time of new applications to 1-2 days and renewals to 1 day or less. The new system is now in place for the annual business registration period every January. Streamlining BPLS is part of improving the city’s business climate, as the City Government takes an aggressive approach in promoting investments. CDI partner cities Tagbilaran and Zamboanga in Western Mindanao likewise streamlined their BPLS, with SURGE support.

Puerto Princesa also hosted the first MIMAROPA (Mindoro Occidental and Oriental, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan) Investment Conference, wherein it showcased the city’s investment potentials and launched its new investment promotion video and investment profile booklet. The video and booklet were developed with assistance from the SURGE Project.

Meanwhile, Tagbilaran City is now officially part of the council that will manage the impacts of the ongoing construction and operationalization of the New Bohol Airport in Panglao Island, which is expected to be completed in 2018. In November, the Bohol Sangguniang Panlalawigan (Provincial Council) approved on the third and final reading of the Provincial Ordinance 2016-15, amending the Panglao Island Executive Council (PIEC) to include Tagbilaran City, thereby creating the Panglao Island – Tagbilaran Executive Council (PITEC).

PITEC is composed of the local governments of the province of Bohol, the city of Tagbilaran and the municipalities of Panglao and Dauis, which will all be providing resources to support PITEC activities. SURGE is helping formulate an over-all framework for the partnership.

“It is amazing how many activities have been implemented within a year. Thank you, SURGE Project, for making all these economic governance reforms possible," said Tagbilaran City Mayor John Geesnell Yap.

The PITEC is one of many efforts of the City Government to improve the business climate and delivery of public services with the assistance of the SURGE Project. Recently, an Executive Order creating the Enhanced Bohol Investment Promotion Program Technical Working Committee was signed by Bohol Governor Edgar Chatto, and concurred by Mayor Yap and Bohol Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Engr. Albert M. Uy. The Provincial Government, City Government and the private sector previously committed to a tripartite partnership in forging a unified strategic direction for an expanded investment promotion program for the province and the city.

The PITEC and the Enhanced Bohol Investment Promotion Program are part of a collaborative initiative in promoting Tagbilaran and the province as a prime destination for large-scale investments.

SM City Iloilo is one of the winners during the 2016 Don Emilio Abello Energy Efficiency Awards of the Department of Energy. Photo by USAID/B-LEADERS

USAID partner in Iloilo City wins energy efficiency awards

Shopping mall SM City in Iloilo City, Iloilo Province, Western Visayas, recently won two awards for its energy efficient initiatives during the 2016 Don Emilio Abello Energy Efficiency Awards ceremonies on December 12, 2016 in Manila. SM City Iloilo is a partner of the City Government and an active participant in USAID's Building Low Emission Alternatives to Develop Economic Resilience and Sustainability (B-LEADERS) capacity building workshops on energy efficiency and greenhouse gas inventory.

The shopping mall won the Outstanding Mall Award and Energy Manager Award for achieving 8.5 percent production energy savings or 478,076 liters of oil equivalent, which translate to about PhP17 million (US$350,000) in cost savings and 937,835 kilograms of avoided carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions annually. These were attained through energy efficiency measures that included the replacement of cooling coils, conversion to LED lights, and installation of cooling towers. The City Government of Iloilo has been working with public and private partners such as SM City in promoting energy audits, energy efficiency measures, and greenhouse gas inventory as part of low carbon development strategies.

USAID brings Professional Science Masters curriculum development to Mindanao university

The University of Science and Technology of Southern Philippines in Cagayan de Oro City will soon launch a Professional Science Masters in Power Systems and Engineering in 2017 to address workforce requirements by power companies in Mindanao. The university is one of many higher education institutions and private industries collaborating with USAID’s Science, Technology, Research, and Innovation for Development (STRIDE) in creating relevant capacities to match industry workforce demands.

As part of its initiative to assist universities in establishing Professional Science Master’s programs, STRIDE conducted a curriculum development workshop on December 6 to 7, 2016 in the city. Dr. Aubteen Darabi, Associate Professor and Learning Systems Institute Director of Florida State University, a STRIDE partner university in the United States, led the two-day workshop for 21 faculty members and university officials including representatives from various local electric companies.

STRIDE also co-sponsored the "Manufacturing Summit 2016: Trabaho at Negosyo", held on November 28 to 29, 2016 in Makati City, organized by the Department of Trade and Industry Board of Investments. USAID Mission Director Dr. Susan Brems attended the event along with more than 200 participants from the government, industry associations, business chambers, academia and donor agencies. The summit provided avenue to discuss the prospects and challenges in the manufacturing sector focusing on the fields of capital development, infrastructure, the ease of doing business, and policy and trade agreements. Personal and inspiring experiences of renowned manufacturing leaders and researchers were also highlighted during the event.

Batangas, Puerto Princesa and Tagbilaran learn from septage management models

The cities of Batangas, Puerto Princesa and Tagbilaran are set to improve their water and sanitation services after learning from the experiences and operations of two septage treatment plants in the country.

On November 22 to 25, 2016, the SURGE Project organized a Septage Management Study Tour and Workshop to help the three cities develop viable septage management strategies. Fifteen representatives of water districts, water service providers, City Planning and Development Offices, and City Health Offices of Batangas, Puerto Princesa and Tagbilaran visited the septage treatment plants of Dumaguete in Negros Oriental and Baliuag in Bulacan. SURGE is also helping the three cities prepare sanitation ordinances, select appropriate technical and viable financial options, and develop local sustainable sanitation plans.

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, a White House initiated “whole-of-government” partnership between the U.S. Government and the Government 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 has six CDI partner cities: Batangas, Cagayan de Oro, Iloilo, Puerto Princesa, Tagbilaran and Zamboanga. Legazpi City in Southern Luzon and General Santos City in Southern Mindanao are the two new upcoming CDI cities.


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


Contact Us

USAID SURGE Project
9/F Salcedo Towers
169 H.V. Dela Costa Street
Salcedo Village, Makati City
Philippines 1227
Tel. +63 2 8878743

Email: comm@surge.org.ph



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