Gov't seeks disaster-resilient housing for Zambo evacuees

October 3, 2013 9:10 am 

By Catherine Teves

MANILA, Oct. 2 (PNA) — Government is soliciting from the public design ideas for housing it will build for Zamboanga City's coastal residents displaced by hostilities that gripped the area since last month.

"How to design settlements free from the risk of disasters is among challenges we face so we welcome suggestions on the matter," social welfare chief Corazon Soliman said Wednesday (Oct. 2) at the Fourth Asia-Pacific Housing Forum in Metro Manila.

She noted coastal dwellers comprise over half of more than 100,000 Zamboanga City residents who fled their homes to escape fighting there between government troops and Moro National Liberation Front rebels.

By adapting designs that take into consideration local hazards and climate change's impacts, government aims to help better protect the residents from disasters and more misery.

Latest available data back such bid.

According to Manila Observatory president Antonia Loyzaga, fresh satelite images indicate occurrence of a 10 mm per year rise in sea level.

"The Philippines is number one in Asia for number of persons exposed to sea level rise, storms, earthquakes and floods," she also said during the forum.

Aside from saltwater intrusion, SLR generates flooding in low-lying areas.

Government's weather agency likewise earlier projected wetter rainy seasons and drier summers for the country.

Experts already warned SLR, onslaught of weather extremes and increasing sea temperature are climate change's impacts on archipelagic Philippines.

Last month, MNLF rebels attacked Zamboanga City and hostaged several residents there.

The rebels are opposing government's peace talks with Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Their attack and encounter with government troops forced thousands of Zamboanga City residents to flee for safety.

Government provided, in the city, tents which the residents are using as temporary shelter.

Social welfare assistant secretary Javier Jimenez said government will conduct there this Saturday (Oct. 5) groundbreaking for the public housing project for them.

"They can't live in tents forever," he said on the forum's side.

He noted the social welfare department will provide some funds for materials to be used in the project.

Non-profit organization Habitat for Humanity will provide manpower for the work, he continued.

"Our agency's involvement is in core shelter – we provide funds so such basic housing can be built as soon as possible," he said.

He noted the social welfare department is open to suggestions on how to make the housing project's design disaster-resilient.

Habitat is spearheading the Asia-Pacific Housing Forum.

The biennial forum provides a venue for discussing issues on housing and poverty.

Both issues are interrelated, Habitat noted. (PNA)

HBC/CJT/RSM

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