Mandaue City, Cebu

Mandaue City is a first-class, coastal and highly urbanized city that is home to 362,654 people within their 3,284.76 hectares of land. It developed from a “dormitory town” where students, workers, and migrants of Cebu City resided, and has since become known for being an industrial, commercial, and manufacturing hub of Metro Cebu. With rapid urbanization and development in the face of climate change, Mandaue has already started experiencing multiple compounding problems including salt water intrusion in over extracted deep-wells, urban sprawl and informal settler communities encroaching in the already minimal wetland areas, as well as various levels of urban flooding due to sea level rise and typhoons that get aggravated by poor drainage and urban planning.

With the help of civil-society organizations like Cordaid, and inspired by the progress in Bantayan Island, pilot projects were conducted in the barangay of Jagobiao to introduce adapt notions of integrated risk management, addressing disaster risk reduction, climate change, and environmental degradation into an urban context. Through the support of Cordaid, the programs included organizing the local resilience platform named People’s Alliance for Resilient Jagobiao (PARJ), addressing issues such as food security through urban gardening programs, and solid waste management programs, among others. It was through these programs that the city government was inspired to expand the climate and disaster risk mapping as a basis for strategy building across all barangays in the City of Mandaue. 

This 2020, against all odds in the time of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the local government unit continued to  pursue both a humanitarian response to the health pandemic as well as their climate resilience plan through the formulation of the Mandaue Resilience Network (MRN). The MRN is a non-political, multi-stakeholder platform  that aims to implement risk-informed resilience strategies for local communities. Utilizing their climate risk assessments, which were conducted through direct community engagements, they have already been able to implement WASH interventions in informal settler areas which are found to be hotspots for COVID, as well as other resilience initiatives such as urban-gardening. Eventually, this platform will be the mobilizing entity to  implement their resilience strategies. 

We saw what the end game was, and the bigger picture, that was something at the base level that moved us to do difficult things. The end game is a self governing community that’s resilient and climate smart. Basically, the community is aware of the climate crisis and they know what needs to be done to address it in their own little way, and getting everyone involved to be resilient as a community. We all know that typhoons and floods come, but for some reason at the height of big typhoons like Yolanda, our experience wasn’t that bad, but we should still be aware that it could happen to us. We need to be ready.”- Genee Nunez, Office of Strategic Management

Through the process, they identified four key elements to prioritize for the Mandaue City climate framework including the vulnerable informal settler families, their wetland ecosystems, and the challenging supply of goods and resources flowing in and out of the city. The latter brought to light important dynamics like Mandaue’s dependence on neighboring cities and peripheral rural areas on resources like water, raw material for manufacturing, and even food. Together with their partners from University of the Philippines Central Visayas Center for Environmental Informatics (CENVI), the local government continues to explore opportunities to improve inter-LGU collaboration and enhance their supply chains.

Even if the administration changes, these programs can be sustained by champions to engage the next administrations to continue supporting community-efforts because it’s non-political. The discussion is resilience and not politics.”Marlo Ocleasa, City Planning and Development Officer, on organizing the MRN as a community-organization. 

In addition, the city has also long been regarded as a model city for their progressive policies – in 2017 they were included among the Low Carbon Model Town cities recognized by the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), a program whose research resulted in the first greenhouse gas accounting for Mandaue and recommendations for strategic mitigation programs particularly for transportation and industries. The city now plans to conduct their first community-based greenhouse gas inventory as a basis of monitoring their ongoing mitigation interventions. 

With a long road ahead of them, the city has their sights on several critical next steps: from institutionalizing policies and formalization of the MRN and the purok system which will serve as the city- and community-level stakeholder engagement platforms, to ensuring that the outputs, strategies, and implementation are cascaded down to the communities who were part of the assessment processes, and finally building partnerships and raising the needed resources. Their commitment to a genuinely community-driven process under such trying times, and their drive to continue on,  is definitely something for other LGUs to aspire to.


Urban Festival Jagobiao

(Photos by Juan Miguel Torres)