Rising from the ashes – 2 (Continuation)

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By Roberto P. Alabado III

Planning Perspectives

Thursday, May 8, 2014


IN THE case of Isla Verde, if the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) will certify that it is an area with high susceptibility to geohazards like storm surges and liquefaction then the LGU must try to relocate these people.

I would prefer to prioritize the citizens of the city because I have been told that a number of these migrants have never fully integrated into our LGU. There are a number of them who stay in the area for economic reasons but still vote in their home provinces.

I do not think it is being heartless for an LGU to prioritize its own citizens for relocation and financial assistance.

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If the LGU decides to allow locals to go back to the same area then it would be best to first put in place the policies and infrastructures to guide it’s development.

I would recommend that the public property not be distributed as lots to the informal sector to own but will instead be designated as a transitional housing area where the community will be allowed to build temporary shelters but will have to vacate that area after a period of ten years. This ten-year period I think will be enough for the LGU to purchase and develop new land for their eventual permanent resettlement.

To make the community safe during their ten-year stay, proper infrastructure must be put in place. Roads for internal traffic circulation plus access for fire trucks and ambulances will be a must. The buffer zone from the shoreline of 30 meters must be respected by immediately planting mangroves in that buffer zone to clearly delineate the area. Lots for their transitional houses must be spaced to prevent congestion and become another fire hazard.

The LGU can perhaps now try to solve the health and sanitation issues of the community by setting up the necessary infrastructure for that.

Imagine a communal facility for the community’s bathing and toilet purposes with standard septic tanks. I am talking about a building that can accommodate at least 20 persons at a time. This will of course take into account some cultural considerations to be successful.

Rainwater catchment facilities can be installed so that these can be used for flushing toilets. Proper roof and window designs will allow natural light and air to enter the building during the day and maybe solar panels can be used to light the facility at night.

The building will be well lit as well as provide separate facilities between sexes. The facility will be a safe haven for the women and their children who are constantly exposed to sexual harassment or worse rape whenever they take a bath or leak in an open area.

In India, the urine and waste have separate compartments because urine will be collected by trucks to be further processed as fertilizer for farms while the human wastes go to bio-digesters to produce methane for cooking purposes of the surrounding houses.

Cenro can use the adulterated urine to water the plants and gardens of the city while CHO or CSSDO can teach families to cook nutritious and inexpensive meals.

To make this facility sustainable, a minimal users’ fee can be charged while strict enforcement of sanitation ordinance will be imposed – those who resort to open defecation and other unsanitary practices will be fined and required to volunteer to clean the community facility.

The local government can subsidize the operation owing to the saving derived from benefits of better community health and sanitation practices.

Is the proposal expensive? Engineering and architecture classes and their professional associations can draw up cost-effective designs for such facility.

Considering the facility’s environmental benefits, the community health benefits, social and security benefits and aesthetic benefits, I would say that the city government, Local Water District and the service oriented private organization can all share in building such facility in our informal communities.

The long term solution will always be waste water and septage treatment plants but we can start with communal sanitation facilities for our informal communities.

From the ashes of the fire, a safer, more resilient and healthier community will rise.

(rpalabado@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on May 08, 2014.

Opinion

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