Cities Development Initiative Newsletter

USAID Philippines Mission Director Lawrence Hardy (right, seated) and General Santos City Mayor Ronnel Rivera sign the Memorandum of Understanding making General Santos City the eighth and newest Cities Development Initiative (CDI) partner city of USAID.

USAID Philippines Mission Director Lawrence Hardy (right, seated) and General Santos City Mayor Ronnel Rivera sign the Memorandum of Understanding making General Santos City the eighth and newest Cities Development Initiative (CDI) partner city of USAID.

U.S. Government and General Santos City Renew Partnership to Advance Inclusive and Sustainable Urban Growth

United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Mission Director Lawrence Hardy II and General Santos City Mayor Ronnel Rivera signed a Memorandum of Understanding on November 27, 2017, making General Santos City the eighth and newest partner in USAID’s Cities Development Initiative.

Through this initiative, USAID works closely with city governments outside Metro Manila to fulfill their potential as engines of inclusive, sustainable, and resilient growth.  In General Santos City, USAID and its partners, including the local government and private sector, will work together to develop and implement city action plans to boost economic growth, improve health and education, and strengthen environmental resiliency.

“Today’s signing demonstrates both parties’ commitment and mutual responsibility to pursue inclusive and resilient economic growth in the city and surrounding localities,” said Hardy.

General Santos City has been a longstanding partner of USAID.  In the late 1990s, USAID supported an extensive infrastructure program in Mindanao, contributing to the construction of the key economic infrastructures in the city, including the General Santos International Airport, Makar Wharf, and several major roads.  “The vibrant relationship between our two governments helped transform this city into a gateway to the Central Mindanao region,” Hardy added. Other USAID CDI partner cities currently include Batangas, Cagayan de Oro, Iloilo, Legazpi, Puerto Princesa, Tagbilaran, and Zamboanga.

“Aside from the benefits of receiving assistance on the most urgent needs of the city, we now have a partner who will provide a progressive perspective to help us achieve inclusive and resilient growth for General Santos City,” said Mayor Rivera.

During his November 27 to 29 visit to General Santos City, Mr. Hardy also attended the regional Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) Summit, organized by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and USAID's Protect Wildlife Project, to formalize USAID’s partnership with three local universities on conservation research and development.

Through a ceremonial signing of a Memorandum of Understanding, the collaboration will help the Mindanao State University-General Santos, Notre Dame of Dadiangas University, and Notre Dame of Marbel University in developing relevant and responsive research and development initiatives that are in line with Region XII’s conservation interests. This partnership hopes to encourage conservation managers and stakeholders to tap into the expertise of these universities in making well-informed decisions using science, research, and innovation.

In Mindanao and throughout the country, USAID is working in close partnership with the Philippine government to advance sustainable approaches that propel inclusive development, contributing to a more secure and prosperous nation. Read the full story  here.

U.S. Government Convenes Mindanao Business Leaders to Spur Investment in Marawi City

USAID, through its Strengthening Urban Resilience for Growth with Equity (SURGE) Project, convened a one-day forum on November 28, 2017, in General Santos City for more than 150 business leaders and government officials to identify ways to promote investment and help rehabilitate Marawi City.

The forum was organized in partnership with the business chambers of Cagayan de Oro, General Santos, South Cotabato, and Marawi; the Muslim Business Forum; the League of Cities of the Philippines; and the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI).  Participants discussed development prospects and challenges, as well as business opportunities, in Marawi City and Lanao del Sur, with the objective of organizing a private sector response to support the restoration of the local economy.

“The local business community should be the leaders in investing in and advancing sustainable economic development,” said USAID Mission Director Lawrence Hardy II, who attended the forum.  “The U.S. government remains a committed partner with the Philippine government and the private sector in achieving inclusive economic prosperity in Marawi City and the entire province of Lanao del Sur,” he added.

Industry players expressed support to help develop the agriculture, manufacturing and logistics sectors of the city as they anticipate a resurgence in business with the ongoing rehabilitation efforts of the national government.

Crisanto Frianeza, Secretary General of PCCI, emphasized that the revival of a dynamic, competitive, resilient and inclusive market system is necessary to improve the lives of affected communities.

During the forum, Unifruitti Group Philippines CEO John Perrine announced that his company is considering major investment projects amounting to US$17 million (PhP850 million) in Maguindanao and Lanao provinces. These projects include a 300-hectare Arabica coffee plantation, a 3,000-hectare pine tree industrial plantation, and a 1,000-hectare abaca intercropped with Brazilian pine plantation. "We have to do our part in creating jobs and giving hope to conflict-affected communities," said Perrine.

Meanwhile, Udenna Holdings, a highly-diversified conglomerate based in Mindanao, offered its vast network of services to speed up the city's economic recovery. Udenna Group Vice President Atty. Adel Tamano conveyed the company's commitment to provide efficient logistics in moving supplies and materials needed for rehabilitation. The company also intends to partner with Marawi entrepreneurs to re-establish damaged refueling stations and help stabilize energy supply in the city.

Miguel Dominguez of the Philippines Business for Social Progress (PBSP) enjoined the whole business community to pitch in for Marawi's recovery. "For a long time, Marawi and Lanao were hosting the hydropower plants that enabled the whole Mindanao to enjoy cheap power rates. It's now time for us businessmen to pay Marawi back for its sacrifices," said Dominguez.

Tagbilaran City and USAID launch the city's first Tourism Development Plan

On December 1, 2017, Tagbilaran City Mayor John Geesnell Yap II and USAID Philippines Mission Director Lawrence Hardy II turned over the city's five-year (2017-2022) Tourism Development Plan to the Department of Tourism, represented by Region 7 Director Joshur Judd Lanete II during a launching event. The Tourism Development Plan is the first tourism plan for Tagbilaran City, anchored on the city's heritage assets and creative industries.

"The Tourism Development Plan embodies the future of Tagbilaran City, detailing actionable steps to promote priority tourism attractions, upgrade needed infrastructure, and enhance overall policy environment and tourism governance," said Hardy.

The plan is guided by an overall tourism vision of Tagbilaran City becoming a leading, sustainable, creative city with a vibrant heritage tourism and cultural industry. Since April 2017, USAID's SURGE Project has been assisting the city government in formulating the plan's strategic directions.

After the launch, Mayor Yap took Hardy on an hour-long tour of the city's heritage sites. The tour started at the Plaza Rizal, which is now the local branch of the National Museum, followed by a visit to Sitio Ubos, a heritage village that used to be the center of the city during the Spanish period and where a few centuries-old houses remain. The next stop was at the ancestral house of Carlos P. Garcia, the eighth President of the Philippines who hails from the northeastern town of Talibon, Bohol. The heritage tour culminated at the Balili Ancestral House.

Service Delivery Network transforms health system in Batangas

Without an adequately functioning health referral system, some health facilities get overcrowded while others are underutilized. As a result, the deficiency denies patients with timely and quality health services. There needs to be a network of health facilities and providers within the province- or city-wide health system that provides essential packages of health care services in an integrated and coordinated manner.

To respond to the challenge of imbalanced health services, the Batangas Province launched a Service Delivery Network in August 2016, with USAID assistance through the LuzonHealth Project. This initiative proved to be an initial success for the province, as recognized during the Local Leaders Conference on Service Delivery Network late this year.

This network allows for faster and more accessible patient referral of high-risk pregnant women from lower-level to higher-level facilities where specialist care is available. By transforming what used to be a fragmented referral system into an efficient one, the province hopes to reduce preventable maternal and child deaths significantly. The network, composed of 71 member-facilities, has recorded 2,225 referrals from August 2016 to May 2017, with a 99.5 percent acceptance rate by the receiving institutions. The proportion of coordinated incoming referrals to the Batangas Medical Center, the province’s apex referral facility, has increased from 28 percent to 66 percent.

For Batangas Provincial Health Officer Dr. Rosvilinda Ozaeta, these numbers show that the network is working. But she also noted that, “There are still gaps in health service delivery and referral of clients. Thus, we need the support of our local elected officials. The health sector alone cannot address all of the identified challenges,” said Dr. Ozaeta. In response, local officials like San Luis Municipality Mayor Samuel Ocampo have committed to support network improvements. Mayor Ocampo shared, “By having a network of highly collaborative health facilities, we can assure our constituents that they will receive treatment in a facility that can manage their condition.”

Batangas Province will soon expand its service delivery network to cover other patient conditions such as communicable and non-communicable diseases, and to involve more private health facilities.

USAID joins first ASEAN Land Governance Summit in Manila

USAID's SURGE Project joined the first ASEAN Land Governance Summit in Manila on December 4 to 5, 2017. The summit, with the theme "Aligning Competencies toward Sustainable Good Land Governance", gathered more than 400 public and private sector representatives from the ASEAN member countries, as well as dialogue partners from Australia, China, and Taiwan, with the special participation of the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

SURGE Project Chief of Party Bradley Baxter gave a presentation on asset management for local government units, and described how cities can improve revenue generation and service delivery through asset management. The SURGE Project previously developed an Asset Management Manual contextualized to the setting of Philippine urban cities, and during the summit, the governments of China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand requested for a copy of the manual.

Plenaries were organized in multiple inter-related themes of Geodetic Network Development and Cadastre, Land Administration, Land Surveys for Land Development and Local Government Geomatics. These provided the opportunity to share local innovations and practical solutions in land governance. The summit was held in conjunction with the 65th Council Meeting of the ASEAN Federation of Land Surveying and Geomatics, hosted by the Geodetic Engineers Development Foundation.

Maynilad Water Academy mentors Tagbilaran City Waterworks System

As part of the larger goal to improve access to water services in Tagbilaran City, a team of specialists from the Maynilad Water Academy visited the city on November 21 to 25, 2017 to conduct mentoring sessions with the Tagbilaran City Waterworks System team (TCWS). The Maynilad specialists also checked the integrity of interventions in the district meter area and validated the use of the hydraulic model to help determine the volume of non-revenue water. The mentoring team was led by Edmund Perez II, Head of the Maynilad Water Academy, Engr. Rodel Serrano, Officer of the Maynilad Water Supply Division, Engr. Wiljeim Laureola, Head of the Non-Revenue Water Division, and Engr. Roldan Pineda, Commercial Manager, Maynilad Business Area. USAID SURGE Project Water and Sanitation Specialist, Engr. Evelyn Sagun completed the team of water systems experts.

Currently, the TCWS only produces 68 percent of their concessionaires’ maximum daily water demand and provides water services for just 8 to 18 hours a day.

These activities are part of the Action Plan agreed by the City Government and the Maynilad Water Services, Inc., through its training arm, the Maynilad Water Academy, in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed in April of this year. The SURGE Project facilitated the MOU partnership and has been working with the TCWS to improve its water and sanitation delivery services. The mentoring and validation activities will lead to the implementation of meter and pipe replacement as next steps.

Palawan partners learn sustainable practices in sandfish sea ranching

A delegation of USAID's Protect Wildlife Project local partners from Palawan visited the Bolinao Marine Laboratory in Pangasinan, run by the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute, on November 27 to 30, 2017 to learn about a sustainable community-based model of sandfish (Holothuria scabra) sea ranching. The study tour is part of the project's strategy to promote sandfish--a variety of sea cucumber--as a profitable source of livelihood for coastal communities. The visit also aimed to boost the technical capacities of local partners in biodiversity research and help improve the livelihood of communities in Palawan.

Representatives from the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development, Provincial Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the municipality of Narra, and community members visited the ocean nursery and sea ranching sites. They were trained on sea ranching protocols, proper handling, sorting and release of sandfish juvelines, and advanced nursery rearing. The visit was also an opportunity to learn the practical strategies on sandfish resource management. Sea ranching research can reduce unsustainable and destructive practices in illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. It can also help restock dwindling sandfish populations in their natural environment. Consequently, the success of the research is beneficial to indigenous and fishing communities that rely on sandfish harvest as their alternative livelihood.

Joint Philippines-U.S. Grid Resiliency Team successfully installs smart resiliency and monitoring equipment in Palawan

On November 8, 2017, a team of technical experts from the Philippine Department of Energy, the U.S. Government, and the Palawan Electric Cooperative (PALECO) successfully installed a grid stability/resiliency and monitoring system, which is tailored fit to the technical requirements and is compatible with the power system of PALECO. PALECO is a non-stock, non-profit electric cooperative that operates the power distribution franchise in Palawan. The province is experiencing an energy crisis, with its daily and frequent outages.

The U.S. Government, led by engineers engaged under the U.S. Pacific Command Unified Cause: Enhancing Contextual Awareness Program and complemented by USAID's Building Low Emission Alternatives to Develop Economic Resilience and Sustainability Project (B-LEADERS), has been closely collaborating with PALECO in the design and configuration of an enhanced grid monitoring capability that allows for real-time monitoring of power supply availability and stability. The smart grid resiliency and monitoring system installation supports the Philippine government’s long-term vision of an enhanced and improved grid performance, through the adoption of cutting-edge technology that hopefully leads to energy security and grid resiliency.

This collaboration endeavors to introduce a continuously-streaming “big data” paradigm to understand load variations better and improve operations about stability and quality operational data analysis that ultimately can serve as the foundation for a grid resilience roadmap for the Philippines.

Five CDI cities receive the 2017 Seal of Good Local Governance Award

In October 2017, the Department of Interior Local Government officially released the list of the 2017 Seal of Good Local Governance Awardees. Out of the 61 city government awardees, five CDI partner cities made it to the list. These are the cities of Batangas, Legazpi, Puerto Princesa, Tagbilaran and Zamboanga.

The Seal of Local Governance Award is given to a local government unit (LGU) that has passed a set of standards for core areas of 1) fiscal administration, 2) disaster preparedness, 3) social protection and 4) peace and order. The LGU should also pass the standards set for at least one of three essential areas, namely 1) business friendliness and competitiveness, 2) environmental management/protection, and 3) tourism, culture and the arts.

Meanwhile, Zamboanga City won third place in the 2017 Gawad KALASAG (Kalamidad at Sakuna Labanan Sariling Galing ang Kaligtasan) Awards under the Best Highly Urbanized City Disaster Risk Reduction & Management (DRRM) Council Category. Davao City and Quezon City won first and second place, respectively. The Gawad KALASAG is the Philippines’ premier annual awards for outstanding contribution in the fields of disaster risk reduction and management and humanitarian assistance for individuals, groups and institutions, organized by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council. The city also won first place in the Best Highly Urbanized City DRRM Category in the Regional Level, with a rating of 94 percent, qualifying it for the national level competition. The city’s 94 percent rating was a big leap from last year’s 86 percent rating.

Balangay Legazpi wins 2017 Best Climate Practices Award

The International Center for Climate Governance announced Balangay Legazpi as the winner of the 2017 Best Climate Practices Award on October 13, 2017, the International Day for Disaster Reduction. The Legazpi City government partnered with Layertech Software Labs to develop Balangay Legazpi, a cloud-based mobile and web application.

The disaster information system connects vulnerable communities to information that can help save lives before and during disasters. The application prepares families for disasters such as typhoons and floods through access to announcements, hazard maps, guides to preparedness and hotlines of agencies related to disaster preparedness and response. The entry from Legazpi City was selected out of 188 worldwide submissions as the best actionable and concrete project to support local communities in preparing and responding to disasters, improving resilience, preparedness and recovery capacity.

As part of its technical assistance to Legazpi City, USAID's SURGE Project helped the city government in packaging and building online support for the winning entry. This year's theme was "Building Resilience to Climate Disaster Risk".

U.S. Government officials visit CDI partner cities

On October 5, 2017, United States Government officials met with Batangas City government officials and private sector partners to talk about activities that promote inclusive and resilient urban growth in the city. Batangas City Mayor Beverly Dimacuha and Congressman Marvey Marino welcomed Senior Philippines Desk Officers Richard Blackwood and Nav Aujla, and Political Officer Neil Philips from the Office of Maritime Southeast Asian Affairs of the U.S. Department of State, Deputy Chief and Economic Officer of the Office of Economic Development and Governance Jenna Diallo and Program Management Specialist Emil Francis de Quiros of USAID Philippines. Secretary to the Mayor Atty. Victor Reginald Dimacuha presented the accomplishment of USAID's SURGE Project and other USAID projects in the city. He reaffirmed the importance of USAID assistance, particularly in contributing to local economic development. The delegates also discussed the business potential for the Batangas City Economic Zone with representatives of the Metro Batangas Business Club, and Batangas Port operations and plans for expansion with Philippines Ports Authority Manager Atty. Leoplodo Biscocho.

On October 20, Jeremy Gustafson, Office Chief of the Environment office of USAID Philippines and CDI Lead, paid a courtesy call to Iloilo City government officials. During his visit, he updated Acting Mayor Jose Espinosa III on ongoing USAID projects under the CDI Program. The Mayor, in turn, highlighted the current needs of the city that include addressing challenges in traffic congestion and flooding, and assistance on water security and capacity development in urban planning. Among the specific areas of possible USAID support were on comprehensive drainage, transportation management, groundwater supply management, and in updating the city's Comprehensive Land Use Plan and Comprehensive Development Plan. Citing the USAID assistance through the SURGE Project in streamlining business processes, investment promotion, comprehensive land use planning and Iloilo river development, the Mayor thanked USAID for its continuous support and commitment to Iloilo City.

Geoportal to set new benchmarks in Zamboanga City's urban development

"The geoportal will enable decision makers to visualize potential growth areas and investment opportunities that will contribute to the city's aspiration of becoming a growth hub," said Alan Aizon, Chief of the Computer Services Division of the local government of Zamboanga City.

Insights from analyzing the locations, attributes, and linkages of data are the basis of a city's plan and policies. City governments accumulate a wealth of data--ranging from population demographics, hazard areas, water pipes networks, revenue sources, land and property values, and agricultural production to tourist arrivals. These data are frequently stored in different locations and formats, limiting access and effective utilization.

After months of training and coaching with USAID's SURGE Project, the Computer Services Division of Zamboanga City government was able to set up a centralized geographic information management system, called the Zamboanga Geoportal. Developing a comprehensive data inventory platform started with sorting the data produced and used by the different city government offices. Each GIS focal point collected and validated existing datasets from each department's internal systems and reports, and national government statistics.

"Access to updated and accurate data from the geoportal is important for us to visualize the dataset spatially. This is very helpful in the analysis of data such as identification of delinquent real properties, idle or undeveloped lands, improper or non-optimal land use, and road and traffic networks," explained Aizon.

The city government launched the Zamboanga Geoportal in September 2017, and with improvements, is set to make it accessible to the public in January 2018. It now stores and presents data from the different city government offices in a single integrated map. Users utilize the geoportal to overlay data that include boundaries, zoning, land use, river system, road network, tourist sites, farms and fish ponds for their specific purposes.

The SURGE Project has been assisting the city government enhance its local data management for resilient and inclusive planning since early 2016.

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 with Equity, a White House initiated “whole-of-government” partnership between the U.S. Government and the Government of the Republic 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. USAID has eight CDI partner cities: Batangas, Cagayan de Oro, General Santos, Iloilo, Legazpi, Puerto Princesa, Tagbilaran and Zamboanga.

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

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