World Bank project aims to ‘upgrade’ squatters

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By Alexander Villafania

PASIG CITY, METRO MANILA – A joint project by the World Bank (WB) and the Philippine government called the National Slum Upgrading Strategy (NSUS) was recently launched to help improve living conditions in slum communities.

The NSUS is to be implemented by the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) with a funding of $455,000 (approximately P20 million) that comes from WB’s Cities Alliance, which is a global coalition of cities and development partners.

The amount would be used to come up with specific slum upgrading programs that can be integrated into the planning process of local government units (LGUs). These plans will come from the result of a comprehensive assessment and database of the conditions, issues, and opportunities of those living in slums.

There are no current or updated estimates on the number of informal settlers in the Philippines. Figures vary depending on the agencies and non-government organizations that are monitoring slum areas.

The 2000 census estimates that there are only around 239,000 homes that are considered informal settlers while other estimates put it around 727,000 just for Metro Manila alone.

A report by the Quezon City Administration showed that about 40 percent of the city’s population of 2.8 million is informal settlers.

World Bank Sustainable Development Leader Mark Woodward said many informal settlers live in highly hazardous locations, such as waterways and under bridges.

During inclement weather, water from these waterways rise up due to the structures built by the informal settlers that cause clogging.

“Alleviating their plight, as well as improving the delivery of social services to these communities, forms a very important component of our Country Assistance Strategy in the country. This is a very important initiative,” Woodward said.

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