Dutch expert team works on coastal protection strategy in Philippines

International engineering and project management consultancy firm Royal HaskoningDHV is leading a multi-disciplinary team in developing a sustainable coastal protection strategy to reduce flood risks for the cities of Tacloban and adjacent Palo in the Philippines.

Tacloban is an important strategic location for the prosperity of the Philippines. It is a regional trading hub and a centre for commerce, industry and education.

Until Typhoon Haiyan struck in 2013, Tacloban was the fastest growing city in the Philippines, with a daily population of 1.2 million. The typhoon killed thousands of people and brought devastation on a massive scale to homes, businesses and infrastructure. Even for a typhoon unusually hard winds of up to 378 km/hr and storm surges of 4-6 m high battered the area.

Tacloban and Palo lie in the path of around 20 typhoons that typically hit the country every year. With predictions of ‘megastorms’ becoming more common as a consequence of climate change, there is a pressing need to develop solutions to the cities’ vulnerability.

The Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) commissioned this project to develop a sustainable coastal protection strategy for the area in the framework of the Dutch Risk Reduction Team (DRR-Team), an initiative of the Dutch Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Infrastructure and the Environment and the water sector.

The mission of the DRR-Team is to advise governments on how to resolve urgent water issues related to flood risks, water pollution and water supply, to prevent disasters or to rebuild after water related disasters.

Prevention

Ms Melanie Schultz van Haegen, Dutch Minister of Infrastructure and the Environment said: “Typhoon Haiyan had a disastrous impact. I hope this coastal protection plan provides a structural solution to better protect the inhabitants, make them more resilient and prevent a next disaster.”

The project, launched in October and led by Royal HaskoningDHV, will identify short, medium and long-term goals together with structural and non-structural measures for coastal protection and disaster risk reduction. It is being carried out in close consultation with the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) and other national and regional agencies and stakeholders.

Drawing on Dutch expertise in coastal resilience

Ms Sandra Cats, DRR-Team Programme Coordinator for the Netherlands Enterprise Agency said: “This project is essential for the future well-being of the people of Tacloban and Palo. Dutch expertise in flood management will be valuable in developing a solution that creates resilience for this low-lying coastal region.”

The project team assembled by Royal HaskoningDHV includes experts from Deltares, Arcadis, Wetlands International, Red Cross, Rebel and Van Oord. In addition to flood management experience, the parties involved have a local presence or track record in the Philippines. This combination of international expertise across a wide range of disciplines and in-depth local knowledge is seen as a key element in contributing to the success of the project.

“We will be working closely with more than 15 local, regional and national organisations,” said Mr George Peters, team leader from Royal HaskoningDHV. “The end result will be much more than simply a technical solution for a flood protection structure, it will be a long-term strategy for the entire area.”

Opportunities for urban development, mangrove and beach forest restoration will be integrated in the plan together with improved storm surge forecasting to create a multi-disciplinary, sustainable solution.

“It is a great challenge and an opportunity to incorporate nature development as part of a coastal protection strategy,” he added.

The € 0.6 million project was launched at a ceremony in Tacloban on 9th October and is due to be completed by the middle of 2016.

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