San Remigio: a willingness to adapt the city in the face of natural disasters
The city of San Remigio is one of the municipalities on the island of Cebu that was most severely affected by the passage of Typhoon Haiyan in November 2013. The latter caused a massive destruction of the city's infrastructure and especially the means of communication for 3 months which greatly delayed the intervention of relief and aid. Thanks to the donation of a network terminal from NTT (Nippon Telegram and Telecomunication), the municipality is now able to restore the access of the population to the communication networks in case of a major crisis on the territory. At the same time, a comprehensive risk prevention plan has been put in place throughout the municipality in order to be able to better respond to climatic disasters.
San Remigio, a municipality badly hit by disasters.
The coastal city of San Remigio is located on the northwestern island of Cebu in the Philippines and is an area particularly affected by typhoons and severe tropical storms during the year. Indeed the municipality is subject to a tropical maritime climate. Its 63,000 inhabitants spread over 9,600 hectares are therefore constantly looking for better anticipation and resilience to the dangers due to these disasters. For example, before Typhoon Haiyan, they had stored rice in the town hall in order to have food available in case of crisis due to the passage of the typhoon. However, there was no real action plan in place at that time.
Typhoons are becoming increasingly violent but less predictable, making their impact on populations more dangerous, causing much greater destruction and complicating the movement of people in anticipation of these climatic disasters.
The creation of the Local Climate Change Action Plan (LCCAP) 2017-2027 ensures the resilience of the municipality to climate change.
Faced with the massive destruction caused by Typhoon Haiyan on the municipality (95% of homes, 60% of crops and 40% of public buildings) and the delay in the return of communications (more than 3 months), the local government of San Remigio decided to implement concrete actions to ensure the resilience of the city to natural disasters and this from 2014 but a real plan was actually implemented from 2017.
Flood risk map for the municipality of San Remigio
A municipality-wide adaptation project.
The municipality has received assistance, including a "movable and deployable ICT (information and communication technology) resource unit" donated by the NTT (Nippon Telegram Telecom) worth 10 million pesos. Although this aid is of external origin, the project remains self-managed by the municipality of San Remigio, which has also acquired two new ICT network routers worth 500,000 pesos each, enabling it to improve its network coverage in the event of a disaster.
In addition to this, the municipality has created a real action plan to enable its resilience to climate disasters: the Local Climate Change Action Plan (LCCAP). This plan provides for clear actions to be taken from 2017 to 2027 as a minimum. To show the real and important involvement of the municipality, it is important to note that 20% of its budget, or 23,800,000 pesos, was spent in 2017 alone to carry out these actions.
This project is intended for all 63,000 inhabitants living in the municipality. Various actions have been put in place in order to facilitate the resilience of the city and the population in the face of natural disasters:
- The ICTs, which operate in the same way as a WIFI, have a power of 3 terabits and allow a network coverage within a radius of 100m for a maximum of 5000 people per terminal connected simultaneously. This crisis network coverage is ensured by a network of antennas strategically positioned at different locations in the municipality.
- A department of the municipality ("housing development") is dedicated to helping the population build stronger houses while preventing new settlements of homes close to risk areas, particularly on the coast.
However, it is important to note that this plan has never been used in a real situation as no major typhoon or extreme tropical storm has yet hit the municipality. Certain points could indeed prove crucial, such as the solidity of the relay antennas or the efficiency of the build-houses.
What is important about the San Remigio's project ?
San Remigio is a municipality that has experienced several times the destruction caused by climatic disasters and, as a result, has decided to develop a "Risk Prediction Plan 2018-2022". This plan will allow the municipality to be more resilient in the face of destruction while minimising the time it takes the population to access aid in the event of a major crisis. However, a major uncertainty remains: no implementation in a real situation has yet been carried out, which leaves this project at the "prototype" stage while awaiting its baptism of fire.
Municipalities can only be encouraged to take natural disasters into account in their plans and budgets, as they are becoming more frequent and violent. In the case of San Remigio, this project is of real interest, particularly in its desire to provide rapid and effective aid for its entire population. We hope that the effectiveness of this project will be real, but of course it will be put to the test as late as possible.