The impacts of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines: implications to land use planning


Recent extreme weather events have brought devastating impacts on people’s lives and infrastructure in many parts of the world. The scale of the impact of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines revealed a high degree of vulnerability and exposure of coastal communities to extreme events in a region that is regularly hit by tropical cyclones. This paper is based on initial assessment of the immediate impacts of Typhoon Haiyan. It was conducted in the cities of Tacloban and Ormoc and in the municipality of Palo, which were heavily affected by the impacts of Haiyan. Vulnerability to typhoon-related hazards and impacts of climate change is considered to be one of the major issues affecting land use in these areas. This paper analyzed existing legal framework and how climate change adaptation (CCA) and disaster risk reduction (DRR) can be incorporated in policies and plans such as the Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP). It also examined the roles and responsibilities of both central and local governments in the Philippines in terms of land use planning and disaster mitigation strategies and their implications towards the future development of climate resilient communities, particularly in the context of a contentious resettlement process as a result of the application of a hazard-based zoning process. The vulnerability of the Philippines to climate change and natural disasters calls for risk reduction measures that decrease the exposure through land use planning, hazard-based zoning, climate resilient building codes and retrofitting as well as innovative financial incentives. These CCA and DRR measures should be mainstreamed into the local government plans through the CLUP and followed by an effective implementation. However, a key challenge to local decision-makers in these Typhoon Haiyan-affected areas is how to incorporate a range of possible vulnerabilities driven by changing landscape, infrastructure, and socioeconomic conditions in land use planning.