Landslide Risk Reduction Schemes in the Philippines

Landslide Risk Reduction Philippines

Experts warn that the risk of landslides is increasing in the Philippines, one of the world’s most disaster-prone countries. The terrain is naturally susceptible to landslides due to the combination of mountainous and hilly regions that experience earthquakes as well as intense rainfall brought on by monsoons or typhoons. According to the Philippine government’s Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), up to 80% of the country’s total land area is prone to landslides, placing the country fourth in terms of landslide risk after Indonesia, India, and China. Moreover, rapid population growth, which leads to increased urbanization, deforestation, and unplanned land-use development, all together contribute to increasing the vulnerability of areas that are already predisposed to landslides in the Philippines. 

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A landslide occurs when a mass of rock, debris, or earth slides down a slope. It has the potential to cause significant damage to infrastructures such as roads, bridges, human dwellings, agricultural lands, and forests, resulting in economic loss. As the built area expands from the congested plains to the open slopes, the unplanned and rapid urbanization process in the Philippines’ major cities contributes to an increase in landslide risk. Our country, being in Asia, has a high number of hotspots and is the most affected by landslides in terms of frequency, mortality, damage, and losses when compared to other parts of the world.

According to scientists, human-caused climate change has increased the intensity and power of tropical storms. Since 2006, the Philippines has seen some of its deadliest storms. In the Philippines, landslides claimed hundreds of lives and caused damage to properties in Cherry Hills, an urban residential area in Antipolo City during the year 1999. Furthermore, landslides have also occurred in rural areas, including Panaon Island-Surigao last 2003 and Aurora-Quezon last 2004. The worst landslide in the Philippines in recent history occurred in February, 2006 in St Bernard town, Southern Leyte, a Visayas province. An entire village was submerged after two weeks of unusually heavy rains. More than 1,000 people were killed, including 200 schoolchildren. In more recent news, at least 167 people died in landslides and floods after Tropical Storm Megi devastated the Philippines last April 10, 2022 (Sunday), with several people still missing and presumed dead. The majority of those killed by tropical storm Megi, the strongest to hit the archipelago this year, died in the central province of Leyte, where landslides distraught communities. In a country with so many vulnerable populations, increasing typhoon intensity and rapid urbanization, often on susceptible land, are exacerbating the landslide risk in the Philippines. Based on this data, planning judgments such as project siting, design, and construction methods must allow for the possibility of landslides. 

How to Prevent Landslides?

If you are planning to construct your own house and lot or purchase your own condominium unit, more detailed information should be obtained to better understand the level of landslide susceptibility within the location of your project or property. Here are some recommended action plans on how to prevent landslides:

1. Government expertise 

Consult the government agencies in the Philippines responsible for landslide management such as the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), formerly known as the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC), the national geological survey, and/or local authorities to gather in-depth information on areas previously affected by landslides and areas figured to be highly vulnerable.

2. Do not increase the hazard 

Consider the location of your planned project infrastructure carefully to ensure that landslide hazards are not exacerbated significantly as a result of project construction, such as improper excavation, slope loading, vegetation removal, and interference with natural waterways and/or existing drainage systems. 

3. Considering the Impact

Consider the impact of landslides on project infrastructures, such as the possible consequence of total or partial damage and loss of life. Consider the infrastructure’s reduced utility if impacted landslides result in an enclosure, and/or if landslides contribute to higher operational and maintenance costs. 

4. Technical expertise 

Try to involve the services of a qualified local or international geotechnical engineer to ensure that landslide susceptibility in your project area is taken into account during project siting, design, and implementation.  

Moreover, you may reach out to local or international professionals with experience working in the project area to gain knowledge of how they reduced landslide risk in previous projects.

5. Further information 

Determine whether the exact project location is in a hazardous zone, for example, by gathering local landslide hazard information from maps or conducting interviews to local government organizations.

6. Regulations 

Ascertain that the project complies with any existing (if any) landslide zoning regulations. 

7. Do not increase the hazard 

Make sure that the project does not raise the chances of landslides at adjacent sites, particularly those directly upslope and directly downslope of the site.

If in case you have already purchased a property and have found it to be susceptible to land movements, here are a few things you can do on how to prevent landslide or shallow slides on slopes that are on your premises:

  1. Preserve as much vegetation as possible on the slope to support in soil retention.
  2. You should not dispose of yard waste on the slope.
  3. You must not add additional water to slopes from stormwater runoff directed to a hillside from downspouts.
  4. Avoid putting an irrigation system on a hillside.
  5. Pools should not be built near a sloping area.

What are the things to consider for a landslide-free property?

  • When looking for a property to buy, look for tilting trees or trees with a bend in them, which indicate a previous slide at that location.
  • A geotechnical engineer should be consulted for deep-seated slides and damage. 
  • The cost of repairing damages can be prohibitively expensive.
  • Keep an eye out for new cracks in your foundation, driveway, or the ground itself.
  • If you hear your house creaking and things snapping or popping, get out and evacuate as soon as possible. It is entirely feasible that multiple homes, not just yours, will be impacted. Contact National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) or your local authorities immediately for an inspection which must be done in daylight hours.

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The government system is one of the important foundations for cultivating an efficient policy framework for the various stakeholders to adopt and implement a coherent landslide risk adaptation strategy together. Local governments have begun to engage in all cities, following up on and implementing policies to create a comprehensive landslide risk mitigation framework, reducing population exposure and vulnerabilities. By involving students, who are viewed as change agents, the school-based landslide monitoring project helps to ensure the sustainability and expansion of landslide risk reduction among other stakeholders and geographical areas.

The full engagement of Filipino citizens, local officials, and technical experts serve to build teaching & learning channels on landslide risk mitigation and motivates additional awareness-raising among all stakeholders on the landslide risk situation in the Philippines. As a result, disaster risk adaptation mechanisms can be expanded more quickly and easily to other types of risks.

If you are planning to purchase an affordable house and lot or condominium unit alongside the fear of landslide susceptibility in your property, Bria Homes will provide you with all the information and assistance you will need. BRIA Homes primes itself on the development of affordable house and lot packages and easy-on-the-pocket condominium units that caters to ordinary Filipino families who aspire to acquire their own homes. It had become the perfect choice for average Filipino workers who wanted to invest in a home that is both high quality and affordable.

Read also: How to Apply for SSS and Pag ibig Calamity Loan for your House and Lot

Written by MC Sanchez