Harnessing suitability mapping for preparedness and resiliency

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, under the Support to the Philippines in Shaping and Implementing the International Climate Regime (SupportCCC II) and Global Initiative for Disaster Risk Reduction projects, in collaboration with the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB) held a forum entitled “Multi–Hazard Based Suitability Maps for Planners and Decision Makers” last January 26 at the DENR Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB)Training Center in Quezon City.

The forum was organized for national government partners, development partners and private institutions to appreciate the concept and utilization of building suitability maps for land use planning purposes.

In setting the context of the forum, Ms. Emma Ulep, Housing and Homesite Regulation Officer VI presented HLURB’s CLUP 2013-2014 Guidelines adopting the use of suitability maps in local land use planning. According to her, suitability maps were already used in the late 1990s guidelines of HLURB, but were only hand-drawn and limited to the agricultural and forestry sector for crops.

Suitability Mapping Forum

Mr. Olaf Neussner, GIZ consultant, presented the multi-hazard suitability maps that dealt with the concepts of hazard, vulnerability, risk and suitability. He identified the sources of climate data and shared the process of transforming these to have a more realistic local maps.

With the experience from Typhoon Haiyan (local Typhoon Yolanda) in 2013, the need for suitability mapping arose to respond to resettlement needs of calamity-inflicted communities. The primary challenge then was identifying areas most suitable and safe for relocation and how houses and buildings would be best reconstructed given their current location.
A number of GIZ’s partner local governments are already using suitability maps in updating their comprehensive land use plans in the Province of Leyte, including the (National Economic and Development Authority) NEDA Regional Office VIII.

Mr. Jay-Ar Ragub, NEDA Senior Economic Development Specialist, presented the disaster risk and vulnerability assessment for the Eastern Visayas region which will be further enhanced using multi-hazard suitability maps. The results will be used in updating the Regional Physical Framework Plan that uses the Integrated Ecosystems Management or ridge to reef analytical planning framework.

Ms. Cecile Ocado, Municipal Planning and Development Coordinator of Tanauan Local Government in Leyte, emphasized the need multi-hazard suitability maps at the local level during her presentation. Prior to Typhoon Yolanda, Tanauan LGU was a partner of GIZ enabling it to update its comprehensive land use plan (CLUP) and develop vulnerability maps. This was helpful in selecting sites for resettlement of typhoon affected communities along the coast and other low-lying barangays of Tanauan.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) and Office of Civil Defense (OCD) had expressed their interest to further work on suitability maps and its applicability in supporting their mandates. While the Metro Cebu Development and Coordination Board expressed interest in replicating the methodology in future planning for Metro Cebu.

The forum was aligned with the Climate Change Commission’s (CCC) 8-point agenda harmonizing government efforts in implementing the National Climate Change Adaptation Plan (NCCAP), National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Plan (NDRRMP) (NDRRMP) and Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC), and achieving national targets in accordance with international commitments.

It was participated by key oversight and technical government agencies like HLURB, CCC, NEDA, PAGASA, OCD, Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHILVOLCS), Department of Environment and Natural Resources- Mines and Geosciences Bureau (DENR-MGB), Department of Agriculture (DA) and Department of Science and Technology (DOST). Other participants also included representatives from Project NOAH, Metro Cebu Development and Coordination Board, and Manila Observatory.