Cities Development Initiative Newsletter

World Water Day 2019

Leaving No One Behind


The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is one with the international development community in championing water as a basic human right. USAID recognizes that everyone, especially the marginalized sector, is entitled to safe water.

USAID’s assistance to Cities Development Initiative (CDI) partner cities encompasses not only providing direct access to safe water, but also strengthening water governance and financing, disaster risk reduction and preparedness, and climate-resilient land use planning as foundations of sustainable water access.

Tagbilaran City celebrates World Water Day

The Tagbilaran City government celebrated World Water Day with the theme "Leaving no one behind" on March 20, 2019, two days ahead of the global commemoration.

During the event, Tagbilaran City Mayor John Geesnell Yap II described the state of the local government-run Tagbilaran City Waterworks System (TCWS) and its improved services. Prior to the interventions of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the Strengthening Urban Resilience for Growth with Equity (SURGE) Project, the TCWS was operating at a loss with negative income.

After a series of workshops and mentoring activities guided by a one-year water systems improvement plan, the operational and fiscal reforms introduced by the SURGE Project and Maynilad Water Services Inc. resulted in more than a34 percent increase in water collections; improved practices in district metering; leakage and water pressure monitoring systems; rehabilitation of pumping stations; construction of additional deep wells; and installation of new water pipes covering more than 7,500 meters, among other improvements. Water services are now available round-the-clock especially in far-flung barangays of the city.

USAID, represented by Urban Planning Specialist, Marian Navata, and the Department of Interior and Local Government, represented by Bohol Provincial Director Johnjoan Mende, joined the World Water Day celebration. Mayor Yap, Ms. Navata, and Mr. Mende also led the ceremonial turn-over of 1,000 new water meters to the TCWS. A plaque of recognition was given to Maynilad Water Services, Inc. in recognition of its valuable assistance to the city government. During the event, the city also launched its social marketing campaign for sanitation to raise the awareness and acceptance of citizens for its upcoming septage management program.

Tagbilaran City Mayor John Geesnell Yap II and USAID/Philippines Urban Planning Specialist Marian Navata led the handover of water meters to the Tagbialran City Waterworks System.

Tagbilaran City Mayor John Geesnell Yap II and USAID/Philippines Urban Planning Specialist Marian Navata led the handover of water meters to the Tagbialran City Waterworks System.

Tagbilaran City officials and stakeholders held hashtags as part of the launch of the city's social marketing campaign for the septage
management program.

Tagbilaran City officials and stakeholders held hashtags as part of the launch of the city's social marketing campaign for the septage
management program.

Tagbilaran City Mayor John Geesnell Yap II (3rd from right), USAID/Philippines Environment Office Chief John Edgar (2nd from right) , and SURGE Project Deputy Chief of Party Brian-James Matibag (2nd from left) turned over a glass plaque of appreciation to Maynilad Water Academy Executive Director Rodora Gamboa.

Tagbilaran City Mayor John Geesnell Yap II (3rd from right), USAID/Philippines Environment Office Chief John Edgar (2nd from right) , and SURGE Project Deputy Chief of Party Brian-James Matibag (2nd from left) turned over a glass plaque of appreciation to Maynilad Water Academy Executive Director Rodora Gamboa.

Mr. Edgar paid a courtesy call to former Bohol Governor Edgardo Chatto during his trip to Tagbilaran City.

Mr. Edgar paid a courtesy call to former Bohol Governor Edgardo Chatto during his trip to Tagbilaran City.

In a separate event, the Tagbilaran City government and USAID formally acknowledged Maynilad Water Services Inc., through its Maynilad Water Academy, for its technical assistance that directly contributed to Tagbilaran City’s improved delivery of water services.

Tagbilaran City Mayor John Geesnell Yap II and USAID/Philippines Environment Office Director John Edgar turned over a plaque of appreciation to Maynilad Water Academy Executive Director Rodora Gamboa during the USAID/SURGE Technical Working Group on February 7, 2019 at the City Hall. During his trip to Tagbilaran, Mr. Edgar also paid a courtesy call to former Bohol Governor Edgardo Chatto.

In General Santos City in South Cotabato, Southern Mindanao, five Rural Water and Sanitation Associations (RWSA) updated their Water Safety Plans with the assistance of USAID through the SURGE Project.

This was the result of a review and finalization activity facilitated by the USAID/SURGE Project in collaboration with the General Santos City Water District (GSCWD) and the Philippine Association of Water Districts (PAWD) in late March. The Water Safety Plans will help the RWSAs manage quality standards of drinking water using risk assessment and risk management from the water source to the consumers.

The GSWCD is helping enhance the capacity of the RWSAs in their operations particularly in actual pipe repairs, water meter design and installation, maintenance of standpipes, detection of pilferages, and pumps operation and maintenance. On the other hand, the RWSAs will support the water district on watershed and septage management. The USAID/SURGE Project is currently assisting 26 RWSAs in water safety planning, covering approximately 57,660 people in the cities of Batangas in Southern Luzon and in General Santos.

Key officers and management staff of the Reformville Waterworks and Sanitation Association with officers of the General Santos City Water District during the updating activity of Water Safety Plans.   

Key officers and management staff of the Reformville Waterworks and Sanitation Association with officers of the General Santos City Water District during the updating activity of Water Safety Plans.   

USAID/Philippines Deputy Mission Director Patrick Wesner and Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno played the Kulintang to signal the opening of the 2019 MYDev Regional Youth Summit.

USAID/Philippines Deputy Mission Director Patrick Wesner and Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno played the Kulintang to signal the opening of the 2019 MYDev Regional Youth Summit.

Youth Program for Mindanao showcases successes

“You are living proof that with hard work and determination, you can change the course of your life and choose actions that are beneficial for yourself, your family and your community,” said USAID Deputy Mission Director Patrick Wesner addressing the youth during the Mindanao Youth for Development (MYDev) Youth Summit in Cagayan de Oro City, Misamis Oriental, Northern Mindanao, on February 21 to 22, 2019.

The 2019 MYDev Regional Youth Summit gathered about 120 MYDev Youth from Central and Northern Mindanao to showcase the gains of USAID-funded MYDev Program throughout its six years of implementation. Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno joined Mr. Wesner during the opening ceremonies.

The event highlighted the stories and experiences of successful MYDev youth and provided them a venue to share their journey of transformation from being out-of-school into becoming outstanding youth in their communities.

The MYDev Program contributes to peace and stability in Mindanao through improved life skills, increased civic engagement, strengthened local governance and increased employability for more than 25,000 vulnerable out-of-school youth in 11 conflict-affected areas. It utilizes a development framework that leads to positive community engagement and employment of youth.

Since the program started in 2013, it has reached more than 24,000 youth, 19,000 of whom have completed Life Skills and Alternative Learning System or Technical-Vocational training. More than 12,000 youth completers have received national certification from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.

USAID/Philippines Deputy Mission Director Patrick Wesner led the ribbon cutting ceremonies for the exhibit at the 2019 MYDev Regional Youth Summit. With Mr. Wesner are (l-r) USAID/Philippines Office of Education Chief Brian Levey, Josephine Layasan of the City Planning Office of Iligan City, TESDA Region 10 Director Tarharta Mapandi, USAID/MYDev Program Chief of Party Miriam Pahm, and DOLE Lanao del Norte Provincial Director Remegio Cabañog.

USAID/Philippines Deputy Mission Director Patrick Wesner led the ribbon cutting ceremonies for the exhibit at the 2019 MYDev Regional Youth Summit. With Mr. Wesner are (l-r) USAID/Philippines Office of Education Chief Brian Levey, Josephine Layasan of the City Planning Office of Iligan City, TESDA Region 10 Director Tarharta Mapandi, USAID/MYDev Program Chief of Party Miriam Pahm, and DOLE Lanao del Norte Provincial Director Remegio Cabañog.

Mr. Wesner with youth participants of the summit.

Mr. Wesner with youth participants of the summit.

Palawan hosts advocacy run for the ocean

Over 300 people joined the “Gorokudan para sa Kadagatan” ("Run for the Ocean") advocacy run in Coron, Palawan in Southern Luzon on February 16, 2019.

Representatives from local government units, national government agencies, private sector groups and community stakeholders joined the fun run and pledged to improve fisheries management in the Calamianes Island Group. Calamianes includes the world famous tourist destination Coron Island, along with Busuanga Island, Culion Island, Calauit Island, Malcapuya Island, Banana Island, Pass Island, Calumbuyan Island and several minor islets. The archipelago is known for its historical sites and environmental features.

The fun run was organized by USAID-funded Fish Right Project, PATH Foundation Philippines, Inc., the private sector and community partners such as the Calamianes Association of Tourism Establishments, Inc., Calamianes Marine Protected Area Network, the local government of Coron, and youth volunteers. The fun run was aimed at raising public awareness on marine protection and sustainable fisheries in Calamianes. It was held back-to-back with a commitment wall signing by Fish Right champions in the area. The kids’ Amazing Race included mangrove-planting and a fishing game that simulated Fish Right’s right-sizing of fishing effort initiative.

Puerto Princesa lights up streets with SMART LEDs

On March 7, 2019, Puerto Princesa City Mayor Lucilo Bayron led the ceremonial lighting of the city's smart LED (light emitting diode) lighting system with Signify, Inc. (formerly Philips Lighting). The US$1.9 million (PhP99 million) worth of urban street lights under the city government’s sustainable lighting program will cover barangays San Pedro and San Manuel. LED lights consume only 50 percent of energy compared to conventional lights. Moreover, the intelligent street lights are expected to reduce the incidence of road accidents and street crimes.

A map-based visualization technology monitors the performance of each street light, and provides real-time alert on outages. Light poles are equipped with sensors that can adapt to ambient light as well as road situations like traffic or crimes. A total of 740 smart lights will be installed this year. (Story and photos contributed by Puerto Princesa City government)

Puerto Princesa first city in Region 6 to launch electronic payment service

The City Government of Puerto Princesa in Palawan, Southern Luzon, in partnership with USAID-funded E-PESO Project, launched its innovative electronic payments facility on March 28, 2019. The launch was attended by city officials headed by City Councilor Nancy Socrates representing Mayor Lucilo Bayron, USAID/Philippines Deputy Mission Director Patrick Wesner, USAID/E-PESO senior staff, and officials from Land Bank of the Philippines, and Rameses Systems Inc.

Puerto Princesa City can now offer online payment services via Land Bank’s Electronic Payments Portal, allowing local businesses and property owners in the city to pay their business permit fees and real property taxes anytime, anywhere online. This pioneering payment system is the first from a local government unit in Region 6 and will further bolster the city’s priority agenda to increase revenue generation by improving efficiency in tax collection. The system was established with the assistance of the E-PESO Project, with systems provider Rameses Systems Inc. and e-payments service provider Land Bank of the Philippines.

“It’s all about making Puerto Princesa City more attractive to investors with support services that foster economic growth, and at the same time responsive to the needs of its citizens with reliable public services,” said USAID/Philippines Deputy Mission Director Wesner during his speech.

A ceremonial turnover of Land Bank cash cards to Puerto Princesa City was also held during the launch. Last year, the city government signed an agreement with Land Bank to use its digital financial services, such as cash card facilities, for payroll, incentives, and other types of beneficiary payments, which led to the disbursement of cash cards to more than 4,000 contractual and job order employees and beneficiaries of the city. Disbursement data in 2017 show that the city government saved up to US$4,800 (PhP250,000) when it shifted its payroll disbursements for employees under contract and job order program from a cash to an electronic system.

USAID/E-PESO is also working with Puerto Princesa City to expand e-payment services to other local government taxes, fees charges, as well as disbursement of payments through PESONet. a new electronic funds transfer service that enables online and electronic customer-enabled transfer of funds between participating banks, e-money issuers or mobile money operators in the Philippines.

USAID/E-PESO provides research, advisory services, partnerships facilitation, and project management assistance to local government units under the USAID Cities Development Initiative (CDI) such as Puerto Princesa City, to support the expansion of e-payment ecosystems in these areas, to help them shift to e-payments the disbursement of social grants and benefits; allowances for staff and contract workers; and collection of real property taxes, building permits, and business permits.

USAID/Philippines Deputy Mission Director Patrick Wesner delivered a speech during the Puerto Princesa City Launch of E-Payments and Investment Forum.

USAID/Philippines Deputy Mission Director Patrick Wesner delivered a speech during the Puerto Princesa City Launch of E-Payments and Investment Forum.

Mr. Joey Rodriquez of Land Bank of the Philippines, Puerto Princesa City Councilor Nancy Socrates, and Mr. Elmo Nazareno of Rameses Systems Inc. signed a Memorandum of Agreement for the implementation of the e-payment system.

Mr. Joey Rodriquez of Land Bank of the Philippines, Puerto Princesa City Councilor Nancy Socrates, and Mr. Elmo Nazareno of Rameses Systems Inc. signed a Memorandum of Agreement for the implementation of the e-payment system.

USAID revives breastfeeding support groups

USAID, the Department of Health Regional Office 5, and the Albay Provincial Health Office in Southern Luzon revived and strengthened Breastfeeding Support Groups. Albay revitalized the adoption of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) infant and young child feeding strategy and promoted exclusive breastfeeding to help mitigate the effects of natural disasters on the health and nutritional status of infants and children.

The first Breastfeeding Support Group was launched in Legazpi City in 2013. With USAID support, the province organized support groups in 15 municipalities and two cities. USAID helped train over 200 health service providers from public hospitals and private clinics in lactation management.

To bolster the initiative, the Albay Provincial Government passed an ordinance for the establishment of breastfeeding and lactation stations in public and private transport terminals. In addition, malls, fast food chains, the Legazpi Port Terminal and the Legazpi Airport have installed breastfeeding stations.

The pili nut is a famous snack food among Filipinos.

The pili nut is a famous snack food among Filipinos.

Key officials and representatives from the local government, academia and industry participated in the activity.

Key officials and representatives from the local government, academia and industry participated in the activity.

Farmer representatives discussed the technologies needed to further support the pili industry in the region.

Farmer representatives discussed the technologies needed to further support the pili industry in the region.

Bicol's pili takes center stake in research and development

The USAID-funded STRIDE Program, in partnership with the Bicol University, convened pili industry players and stakeholders on February 13, 2019 for a research and development (R&D) planning workshop in Legazpi City, Bicol, Southern Luzon. The activity aimed to gain insights on the innovation needs of pili producers, conceptualize the direction of the industry, and identify concrete steps for R&D.

USAID/STRIDE provides technical assistance to the Philippine government particularly in establishing Regional Inclusive Innovation Centers (RIICs) in four pilot sites in Regions 5, 7, 10, and 11. A major recommendation of the Inclusive Filipinnovation and Entrepreneurship Roadmap of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and Department of Science and Technology (DOST), RIICs are intended to be an avenue for stakeholders to connect and strengthen innovation-led and entrepreneurship-centered activities in the regions.

According to DTI, the Philippines is the only country capable of commercial production and processing of pili-based food and by-products, with the Bicol region supplying 80 percent of the total output volume. The pili nut tastes like pumpkin seed when raw, and takes on an entirely different taste when roasted. It is a popular snack among Filipinos and is gaining popularity in other countries as a premier healthy snack food.

“We really need to identify the specific needs of the pili industry so that we can directly connect and address their needs. We are thankful to the DTI, DOST, and USAID/STRIDE for organizing the event, as we are now addressing the basic gap between the flow of technology to the industry itself --that is to get people to talk to each other,” said Ronnel Dionea, Vice President for Research, Development and Extension of Bicol University during a similar activity held in support of the Legazpi RIIC in December 2018.

The activity led the Bicol University to continue engaging with the region’s stakeholders in identifying gaps and addressing issues within the pili industry. This has been important toward the recent approval of the university’s “Pili Development R&D Center”, under DOST’s Niche Centers in the Regions for R&D (NICER) grant program. USAID/STRIDE will continue to carry on facilitating workshops aligned with the RIIC goals, and conduct programs toward the RIIC institutionalization.

Zamboanga City and USAID raise awareness on water and energy issues

The local government of Zamboanga City in Western Mindanao and USAID-funded SURGE Project gathered local leaders, business groups, and residents to raise the public's awareness on the city’s water and power issues during the Water, Energy and Power Summit on March 26, 2019.

The summit convened more than 250 representatives from the public and private sectors to share water and energy issues both at the national and local levels, and to recommend local practical solutions. Resource speakers described challenges to the Philippine water supply and sanitation sector, the state of water in Zamboanga, water governance and resilience, rainwater harvesting, the energy situation in Mindanao, and the feasibility of Mindanao achieving 100 percent renewable energy.

The summit also sought medium and long-term solutions such as the diversification of sources of water and electricity. Among the strategies identified were harvesting rainwater, building shallow wells, and constructing mini water impounding dams.

Early this year, the Zamboanga City Water District resorted to a 12-hour water rationing scheme as a result of the drought that has affected not only the city’s water supply but also crop production and irrigation for rice fields. On March 5, the city Legislative Council passed a resolution placing Zamboanga City under a state of calamity. The Zamboanga City Electric Cooperative has also experienced financial challenges, resulting in rotational outages in Zamboanga.

About 140 representatives from the city and provincial governments, City Council for Culture and the Arts, private sector, and academia participated in the forum.

About 140 representatives from the city and provincial governments, City Council for Culture and the Arts, private sector, and academia participated in the forum.

Iloilo City Planning and Development Office Head Jose Roni Peñalosa shared the best practices of Iloilo City in heritage conservation.

Iloilo City Planning and Development Office Head Jose Roni Peñalosa shared the best practices of Iloilo City in heritage conservation.

Tagbilaran City holds first Heritage Conservation Forum

Tagbilaran City in Bohol, Central Visayas, held its first Heritage Conservation Forum on February 26 to 27, 2019, in collaboration with the USAID-funded SURGE Project. One hundred forty (140) participants from the city and provincial governments, City Council for Culture and the Arts, private sector, and academia participated in the forum. Heritage advocates and enthusiasts, and owners of heritage houses and structures also joined the forum.

The forum served as a venue for local stakeholders to learn from the best practices and experiences of experts from the National Museum, the City Council for Culture and Arts, USAID/SURGE Project, and Iloilo City, in conserving and promoting heritage destinations.

Iloilo City Planning and Development Office Head Jose Roni Peñalosa shared the best practices of Iloilo City in heritage conservation. The private sector in Iloilo City created a foundation to support the city’s heritage conservation.

USAID/SURGE Tourism Consultant Dr. Randy Alampay talked about promotion of cultural heritage assets and ways to enhance the tourism experience of tourists. In 2017, USAID/SURGE provided technical support to the city government in developing its first Tourism Development Plan, which is anchored on the city’s heritage assets and creative industries. Bohol province is known for its century-old heritage houses, cathedrals, and schools. More than 200 of these are located in Tagbilaran City.

The forum ended with recommended strategies to strengthen the city’s heritage conservation. These are formal organization of the owners of heritage structures; production of a catalog of cultural assets; amendments to the city's heritage ordinance; and gain support to establish a night market as a cultural hub to showcase intangible cultural assets.

USAID launches cold chain activity in Cagayan de Oro

The USAID-funded SURGE Project and the Cold Chain Association of the Philippines (CCAP) kicked off activities to improve cold chain systems in four cities on March 29, 2019 in Cagayan de Oro City, Misamis Oriental, Northern Mindanao.

The USAID/SURGE Project and CCAP held the first of a series of Cold Chain and Food Safety Seminars in Cagayan de Oro City. More than 100 farmers, food processors, food handlers, food service providers and local government officers attended the seminar, which tackled major challenges in food safety, and the importance of cold chain in ensuring compliance with new food safety regulations.

A cold chain is a temperature-controlled supply chain for processing, storage, and distribution to preserve and extend the shelf-life of perishable products such as vegetables, fruits, meat, and seafood. It includes the use of refrigerated trucks, reefer ships, and cold storages, among others. The expansion of cold chain facilities in Cagayan de Oro City will enhance the city's position as a major logistics hub for food products in Mindanao.

USAID/SURGE identified three major factors expected to drive overall demand for cold chain services in the country. These include the rapid growth of food service establishments including quick service restaurants, expansion of modern retail outlets like supermarkets and convenience stores, and steady increase in the per capita consumption of meat and dairy products.

USAID/SURGE is pursuing a partnership with CCAP to promote the expansion of cold chain services in Cagayan de Oro City and three other cities--Batangas, Ilolo, and Zamboanga. Under the planned partnership, USAID/SURGE and CCAP will conduct seminars on cold chain and food safety, provide training and technical assistance in upgrading standards for slaughterhouses, and promote new private investors in cold chain facilities to support key industries such as fruit and vegetables, livestock, poultry, fish, and aquaculture. CCAP President Anthony Dizon welcomed USAID/SURGE's planned technical assistance in cold chain as a catalyst to increased awareness on food safety and product quality among local farmers and food producers.

This was followed by a similar seminar on April 12, 2019 for about 100 Batangas City stakeholders. During the seminar, USAID/Philippines Office of Economic Development and Governance Deputy Director Jenna Diallo emphasized in her message that enhancing the cold chain system will open many opportunities to boost the economic development of Batangas City. The improvement of the cold chain in Batangas will support the post-harvest and storage requirements of the livestock and poultry industries, which will contribute to the overall competitiveness of these sectors.

Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno welcomed guests during the Cold Chain Forum.

Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno welcomed guests during the Cold Chain Forum.

USAID/SURGE Agri food Industry Advisor Dr. Rolando Dy gave an overview of the food and agri business sector.

USAID/SURGE Agri food Industry Advisor Dr. Rolando Dy gave an overview of the food and agri business sector.

Cities Development Initiative partner cities in the Philippines.

Cities Development Initiative partner cities in the Philippines.

Cities Development Initiative

USAID is working to strengthen the economic competitiveness and resilience of cities outside Metro Manila through its Cities Development Initiative (CDI). The CDI seeks to advance the development of cities as agents of growth that is inclusive, environmentally sustainable and resilient. Depending on the most urgent needs of the city, USAID provides a range of technical assistance, drawing from resources in economic growth, health, energy, environment, governance, and education to assist the cities achieve resilience and inclusive growth.

The CDI is a crucial component of the broader Partnership for Growth with Equity, a White House initiated “whole-of-government” partnership between the U.S. Government and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines. The partnership aims to shift the Philippines to a sustained and more inclusive growth trajectory on par with other high‐performing emerging economies. USAID has eight CDI partner cities: Batangas, Cagayan de Oro, General Santos, Iloilo, Legazpi, Puerto Princesa, Tagbilaran and Zamboanga.