MANILA, Philippines - The World Bank approved on Wednesday a $1.5 million grant to support government efforts to reduce the vulnerability of Metro Manila and surrounding areas to catastrophic flooding.
In a statement, the multilateral lender said the grant would pave the way for the creation of a flood control master plan in the capital.
The grant was a response to recommendations of the Post-Disaster Needs Assessment for the Philippines (PDNA) following the devastation brought about by typhoons Ondoy (Ketsana) and Pepeng (Parma) in 2009.
According to the PDNA, damage and losses from the 2 typhoons amounted to $4.4 billion, equivalent to 2.7% of the country's gross domestic product.
The report recommended, among other measures, the formulation of a comprehensive flood management master plan for Metro Manila.
"Preventing similar disasters entails reforms in key governance issues such as land use planning, housing, water management, environmental protection, and disaster risk reduction. This grant provides us additional resources to accelerate these reforms," said Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, who represented the national government during the signing of the World Bank grant.
World Bank Country Director Bert Hofman, for his part, said the grant was part of the institution's commitment to the Philippines under its Country Assistance Strategy (CAS) for the period 2010 to 2012. The CAS seeks to reduce the vulnerability particularly of the poor to external shocks, including those arising from natural disasters.
"In addition to the master plan, the World Bank is assisting the Philippine Government in coming up with a risk finance strategy to reduce the fiscal burden arising from increasing costs of disasters, and in building the capacities of high risk LGUs to deal with natural disasters," said Hofman.
Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson, meanwhile, said the flood management master plan "will inform policy, engineering and financial decisions to ensure that lines of accountability among agencies involved in flood management are clarified and adequate infrastructures are put in place."
The $1.5 million grant was provided by World Bank-administered Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) using funds earmarked for the Philippines by the Government of Australia through the Australian Agency for International Development. GFDRR is a partnership of 32 countries and 6 international organizations, including the World Bank, committed to helping developing countries reduce their vulnerability to natural hazards and adapt to climate change.