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WB OKs $207.6-M funding for Metro flood project

The World Bank has approved counterpart financing worth $207.6 million for the Metro Manila Flood Management Project which is scheduled to start within the year. AP/File

MANILA, Philippines — The World Bank has approved counterpart financing worth $207.6 million for the Metro Manila Flood Management Project which is scheduled to start within the year.

The bank’s board of executive directors cleared on Sept. 28 the co-financing for the $500-million project that will improve flood control in select areas of the metropolis.

China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) has likewise approved similar funding of $207.6 million while the Philippine government will shoulder the balance of $84.79 million.

Floods, which typically occur during the typhoon season from June to October, aggravate traffic congestion in densely-populated Metro Manila. The destruction brought to property and infrastructure also affect the quality of life of its residents, especially the poor.

Under the project, 36 existing pumping stations will be modernized while 20 new ones will be built. Supporting infrastructure along critical waterways will also be improved in the cities of Manila, Pasay, Taguig, Makati, Malabon, Mandaluyong, San Juan, Pasig, Valenzuela, Quezon City and Caloocan.

The World Bank said many of Metro Manila’s existing pumping stations were built in the 1970s and have become inefficient and underperfor-ming.

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The solid waste management component of the project will also improve the disposal of solid waste within barangays near the drainage systems served by the pumping stations. Solid waste clogs waterways and the entries to pumping stations, affecting the operation and maintenance of the pumps.

The project will likewise support the resettlement of informal settlers who have occupied areas along waterways.

“Recurrent flooding has made life more difficult for the poorest populations who live in low-lying areas, on riverbanks, and in other danger zones,” said Mara Warwick, World Bank country director for Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand.

The Department of Public Works and Highways and the Metro Manila Development Authority will jointly implement the project in close coordination with local governments and key shelter agencies. Slated to start this year, the project is scheduled to be completed in 2024.

The project is an offshoot of the Metro Manila Flood Management Master Plan initiated by the government, with financial and technical support from the World Bank after the onslaught of Tropical Storm Ondoy (Ketsana) in 2009. The masterplan was approved by the National Economic and Development Authority Board in 2012.

While it will take around 25 years to fully implement the master plan, the flood control project is considered as an important step towards protecting the vulnerable population in the metro.

“When floods occur, the capacity of people to earn a living is constrained, and many can fall back into poverty. Investments that improve flood management helps protect vulnerable communities as well as boost resilience against the impact of climate change,” said Warwick.

In 2009, Ondoy inundated Metro Manila, killing hundreds and causing damage and losses equivalent to around 2.7 percent of the country’s economy.

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