Gallery: Living on Land That Is No Longer Land At All

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Catholic Relief Services' SUCCESS project, or Strengthening Urban Communities' Capacity to Endure Severe Shocks, is helping some of the poorest residents of Manila prepare for natural disasters through planning, mapping and improving neighborhood conditions to reduce the severity of damage in the event of a disaster.

The residents of Lawa "barangay," or neighborhood, live in particularly precarious conditions. In the early 1990s, this lowland area of rice paddies began filling with water. Between the high tides on one side of their community and runoff from higher ground on the other, the water is now 5 to 7 feet high with no drainage possible. Families that formerly lived in cement houses on the ground now live in bamboo homes that can be raised every few years to accommodate constantly increasing water levels. High housing costs in other locations prevent them from moving, even though their neighborhoods lack sanitation infrastructure. Meanwhile, families continue to move in, searching for factory jobs. The ongoing health risks present in these conditions become critical problems during disasters.

CRS is working with barangay officials and our Church partner, the Commission on Social Action of the Diocese of Malolos, to conduct monthly garbage cleanups and improve the environment of people living over the water. Our efforts include operating SILC groups to encourage savings, and creating community disaster plans.

Learn more about CRS' work in the Philippines.