Faced with mounting casualties every year due to powerful storms and floods, the Philippines will raise its 2012 spending on infrastructure that can withstand disasters, officials told IRIN.
The Department of Public Works and Highways said more than 11 percent of its overall national budget in 2012, amounting to about US$25.2 million, would go to building "long-term solutions" to the country's perennial flooding during the monsoon season, typically from May to early January.
On average, 20 typhoons, some of them very powerful and deadly, hit the Philippines archipelago annually.
Among the priorities are building water catchments, impounding structures upstream of key river systems and the rehabilitation of damaged infrastructure from a deadly storm season in 2011.
"Drainage protection works along national roads and bridges nationwide would be prioritized; we will also look at flood control projects in key river basins based on detailed master plans," said Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson.
"We will also continue the promotion of new technologies, such as geo-textiles and coco-netting in slope protection and soil erosion control, the promotion of rainwater harvesting and retarding basins, among others," he said.
Geo-textiles are fabrics laid under top soil for soil stabilization and erosion control. The most widely used in the Philippines is made of coconut fibre, which local studies have proven works well to bind soil and prevent erosion in sloping areas used for agriculture, as well as rivers and shorelines.
Florencio Abad, Manila's Budget Secretary, said the country's overall infrastructure spending for 2012 should increase by 25 percent annually to reach 182 billion pesos, or about $4.3 billion, a large portion of which will go to flood mitigation.
The last powerful storm to hit the country was Washi, which slammed into the northern portion of Mindanao, the country's heavily populated southern island, triggering massive flooding that left more than 1,200 dead and almost half a million displaced as of 26 January.
The areas where the storm hit from 16-18 December were not in the traditional belt of typhoons coming from the Pacific, and many of the communities were unprepared, resulting in the high number of casualties and widespread devastation.
In a revised appeal this month, the UN has called for $39 million to continue helping flood survivors for the next six months.
This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions