General Santos City BDR-SSP

The Barangay Level Disaster Risk-Sensitive Shelter Plan (BDR-SSP) for the three (3) Pilot Barangays in General Santos City, Philippines


Conduct of BDR-SSP Process in the three (3) Pilot Barangays

Barangays Apopong, City Heights and Labangal of the City of General Santos (GenSan), in partnership with the Barangay and City LGUs, have prepared their shelter plans that are disaster risk-sensitive. These plans are results of a participatory process, called, Disaster Risk-Sensitive Shelter Planning (DR-SSP). The pilot project was conducted at the barangay level and which outputs are dubbed as the Barangay Level DR-SSP or BDR-SSP. The BDR-SSP aims to lessen the exposure to hazards and to increase the level of adaptation capacity of the most vulnerable members of the communities in the barangay. The planning exercise was facilitated through a series of capacity building conducted by Alternative Planning Initiatives, Inc. (ALTERPLAN) in partnership with the Danish International Human Settlement Service (known as DIB in Denmark) and the local partner NGO, the KPS Foundation, Inc. (KPSFI).

Location of the three (3) contiguous pilot barangays (Apopong, City Heights and Labangal) of General Santos City

The 3 barangays were selected based on their exposure to hazards and discernable significant number of its high risk and vulnerable households (HHs), needing priority interventions. Members of the local team of each barangay are from the people’s organizations (POs), community volunteers and barangay officials. The BDR-SSP participants carried-out the actual engagement during the data gathering; community and barangay level consultations and activities; and, their engagement as civil society organizations (CSO) in the planning and budget processes with the Local Government Unit (LGU) of GenSan.

Each of the 3 barangays was considered as a planning area. Several tools for participatory situational analysis (PSA), were used to understand each its local physical, environmental and socio-economic conditions. After looking at the overall hazard exposures of HHs in the barangay, the process proceeded to locate the clusters of high risk HHs that are most vulnerable to the risks from the impacts of the identified hazards. Each high-risk cluster is considered as a research population within the barangay. To be able gather data and information and consequently analyze these collectively, the following tools were employed to facilitate the PSA:

a. Socio-economic and Housing Survey (use of questionnaire, global positioning system, structural tagging and rating, including floor area estimates); 
b. Mapping and using other existing and published maps as references; 
c. Root-Cause Analysis; 
d. Focus-Group Discussion/Key Informants Interviews; 
e. Community assemblies, meetings and consultations; 
f. Planning workshops; and 
g. Excel worksheets for encoding and analysis of survey results. 

The PSA process, allow the communities to identify the exposure to hazard risks and the source of vulnerabilities of households in a variety of characteristics, based on their common experiences and the uniqueness of their planning area.

The DR-SSP strategy formulation framework for a shelter plan, is not just all about housing projects and relocation. The formulation of the strategies aims to mitigate the hazards affecting the HHs, to increase the adaptive capacity and resilience of the most vulnerable HHs in the community to natural and human-induced hazards. The target outcomes are shelter and settlement-related strategies, which are subject to either on-site or off-site implementation.

The strategies formulation is founded on the common and systematic understanding of the cause and effects of the community’s exposures and vulnerabilities to hazard risks. The knowledge-based and participatory process guides the community in identifying and assessing the:

a. presence of hazards in the barangay (referred to as, “H”), and what causes them (Examples: H1-Flood, due to overflow of the river; H2-Fire, due to faulty electrical connections; H3-Landslide due to heavy rains, etc.); 

b. location and exposures of clustered “high-risk households” (referred to as, “C”) (Example: C1- is exposed to flooding due to overflow of the river (H1), and risk of fire due to faulty electrical connections (H2)); 

c. sources of vulnerabilities of the high-risk households (C) that weaken their capacity to prepare for, respond to, cope with, and recover from the risks of hazards and disasters. (Examples: poverty; unsafe housing structure; unsecured status of land ownership; lack of awareness; lack of effective disaster/emergency response plans; lack or inefficient accessibility; unorganized community members; poor governance; lack of or inequality and inadequate access to basic services, resources and livelihood; etc. )

Hence, the formulation of strategies and interventions for the BDR-SSP process are guided by the following objectives: 

a. To mitigate the impacts of hazards (H) in the barangay, to prevent, lessen or delay the risks that they pose to the households; 

b. To respond to the housing and settlement-related needs of the high-risk households (C), to lessen their exposure to natural (climate and geological related) and man-made hazards which aggravate their vulnerability to risks; and 

c. To address the sources of vulnerabilities of the high-risk households to increase the level of their adaptive capacity and resilience which will enable them to cope better when faced with risks during disasters and emergencies.

Outputs of the different BDR-SSP processes include maps, tables and set of strategies that were formulated for each of the participating barangay using participatory processes. The strategies went through further analysis and revisions with the result that appropriate interventions were defined and formulated which include three (3) components, such as: services, program or projects and policies. 

The formulated BDR-SSP strategies are the elaboration of the needs of each of the 3 barangays to improve their living conditions while increasing their adaptive capacity and resilience when faced with hazard risks and disasters. Proposed strategies are founded on the actual experiences of the community and from the results of the survey conducted under the process. These strategies are further defined as interventions in form of 3 components, namely- services, program or projects and policies. Together with other results from the collective process, these are collated into a BDR-SSP document, which is aimed to contribute to the preparation of the Barangay Development Plan, City Local Shelter Plan, City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Plan, Annual Investment Plan (AIP), Medium-Term Public Investment Plan (MTPIP) and other related development endeavors of the barangay and the Local Government of General Santos City. The BDR-SSP output from this planning exercise is targeted to constitute a three-year (2016-2018) action plan and are to be reviewed and revised on a rolling basis.

Possible replication of similar activities, at the barangay and city levels, are expected based on the skills and knowledge acquired by the participating people’s organizations, community volunteers and representatives from the barangay LGU.

Research Population

Due to the limited resources and time constraints within the project period, the socio-economic and housing surveys conducted by the BDR-SSP participants were only focused on the most vulnerable “high-risk HHs clusters” (C’s) to natural and human-induced hazards, of the planning areas. Based on these considerations, these HHs were collectively selected as top priorities by the participants for each barangay. Hence, the research populations for the pilot study, do not cover all the informal settlers and households living in all the disaster-risk areas of each of the 3 barangays. 

To address these limitations, communities were provided with two (2) options to administer the socio economic and housing survey in the research population:

a) 100% of the research population of the “high risk HH cluster”, in sub-groups with manageable number of households; and 

b) Get the sample size from the research population, in sub-groups with relatively big household population, using 95% level of confidence and ±5 margin of error. This method allows the participants to determine a smaller number of households from the total research population that are needed as respondents to the survey tool, while getting results that still represent the target population, as accurately as needed.

Community Hazard Mapping

The delineation of hazards on the maps by the barangay participants, are based on their collective historical experiences with disasters or emergencies, as of the BDR-SSP mapping and research exercises, in 2015. The hazards identified by the community, show similarities and inconsistencies in their degree, magnitude or location when these are made to overlay with the published hazard maps from the local and national government agencies. The discrepancies on the identified hazards may be attributed to the following: 

a) Communities delineate hazards on map, based on their experiences. For example, HHs delineate flooding on the map according to its coverage as far as they are able to experience it. However, the elaboration of its impacts and risks are found in their tables of hazards. Whereas, most published maps delineate flood according to the susceptibility of an area and the degree of its impacts. 

b) Actual profile of local flooding and other hazards on the ground may change overtime due to infrastructure development; changes in land use; or impact from a disaster, after the publication of government maps. 

c) Communities have the limitations in mapping out potential presence of geo-hazards (such as, landslides, erosion, liquefactions, etc.) which they have not experienced nor which they do not visually perceived. 

d) Boundaries drawn by the community on their barangay maps, may not be consistent with those of the official maps of the City LGU or those published by national agencies. To date, majority of published maps are not updated according to the recent changes in the political boundaries of barangays in cities and municipalities. 

e) Communities map out hazards only as far as they have experienced and perceive their presence in their barangay. This often leads to their limitations in delineating hazards only within their perceived confines, which in reality, are likely traversing the boundaries to the next or beyond other barangays. 

Given the above mapping limitations of the exercise, the process strongly value the overlay of community hazard maps with the published hazard maps. Based on community experiences, identified gaps are often verified using the results of other PSA tools to verify the gaps. The process serves as ground truthing, in itself. It is also advantageous to perform BDR-SSP process with contiguous barangays, such that, their transboundary concerns are identified and addressed by shared solutions. 

In addition, the exercise builds the awareness of the community about land research process wherein participants are guided to seek MGB’s assistance with regards to the safety from hazards, before purchasing a land meant for their housing and other infrastructure projects.

As expected from the limitations of the project, other findings were taken to be indicative and experiential, rather than definitive of the physical and socio-economic characteristics taken for this plan.

Type and Sources of Information Used

The following is a listing of the type and sources for the information used in the process and for this document, other than those that were collectively generated from the Participatory Situational Analysis (PSA) of the BDR-SSP process.

On the Population Sources
- 594,446 (Phil. Statistics Authority, Population 2015 Census)
Household Population
- 118,889 (Phil. Statistics Authority, Population 2015 Census)
- General Santos City Socio-Economic Profile 2014
Location and magnitude of ISFs
- 21,847 (General Santos City Housing Summit 2016)
High Risk Household Population
- 173,466 City Census 2011 (CityCen 2011, General Santos City)
On the Land Characteristics Sources
Barangay Hazard Maps
Flood/Erosion/Lahar Hazard: Study: Technical Assistance for Green and Sustainable Urban Planning in Three Philippine Cities, ICF-GHK (General Santos City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office – 2013)
Flood Hazard: MGB-DENR (2012)
Barangay boundaries
City Planning & Development Office (2013)
Natural features and hazards


General Description of the Pilot BDR-SSP Planning Areas in the City of General Santos

General Santos City lies at the southern part of the Philippines. It is located between 125°1’ and 125°17’ East longitude and between 5°58’ and 6°20’ North latitude. The city is southeast of Manila, southeast of Cebu and southwest of Davao. The municipalities of Alabel, Malungon and Maasim of Sarangani Province and the municipalities of Polomolok and T’boli of South Cotabato surround the city.

General Santos City sits within a Type 4 climate zone, with rainfall evenly distributed throughout the year. Of all the cities in the country, General Santos has the lower historical annual rainfall at an annual average of 911mm. Although General Santos has been typhoon free — with only one storm tracking through the city in 40 years — this city is likely to experience the remaining 5 climate impacts listed in the 2009 WWF study. These include El Niño related shifts, increased temperatures, ocean acidification, higher rainfall and sea level rise.

Most Philippine cities are expecting more rain. General Santos has the lowest rainfall of all the cities. Although average rainfall over the city appears to be slowly increasing, historical data also seems to show higher temperatures on the horizon. General Santos City must learn how to cope with hotter days and nights.

The city of General Santos fills the geographical “polygon” created by Sarangani Province in southwestern Mindanao. With Alabel in the east, Malungon and Polomolok in the north, T’boli in the west and Maasim in the south; the city sits at the edge of a great volcanic plain, hugging the coastline of Sarangani Bay.

The three (3) Pilot Barangays Engaged in the BDR-SSP Process of General Santos City showing the Location of the Research Population and the Presence of Hazards

Barangays Apopong, City Heights and Labangal are the three (3) among the 26 barangays identified to be high risk to floods, while, barangays Apopong and Labangal are the two (2) among the 4 barangays identified high risk to lahar flows. [ Study: Technical Assistance for Green and Sustainable Urban Planning in Three Philippine Cities, ICF-GHK (General Santos City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, 2013) ]

As per the City Census conducted previously, therefore are 79,000 housing backlog and 27,000 of that are ISF meaning they don’t have access to financing institutions and the rest are sharers and renters who could have access to housing loans. [ Minutes of Joint Hearing – Committee on Urban Poor Affairs and Committee on City Land Use – Urban Planning and Development, February 12, 2016 ]

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