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Her Excellency Marion Derckx, the Netherlands Ambassador to the Philippines, General Manager and CEO Peter Anthony Abaya, PRA Directors Edilberto De Jesus and Virgilio Ambion, Tacloban City Mayor Alfredo Romualdez, Councilor Jonathan Chiquillo of Municipality of Palo, PRA officials and project engineers, and the consortium of Dutch consultants during the launch of Coastal Defense Master Planning for Tacloban City and Palo, Leyte.

In a ceremony held last 9 October 2015, the Coastal Defense Master Planning for Tacloban City and Palo, Leyte was launched at the Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport in the said city. The Netherlands Ambassador to the Philippines, Her Excellency Marion Derckx, PRA General Manager & CEO Peter Anthony Abaya, PRA Directors Edilberto De Jesus and Virgilio Ambion, and Tacloban City Mayor Alfredo Romualdez graced the event while Councilor Jonathan Chiquillo represented the Municipality of Palo.

The crafting of a master plan and the conduct of a study is a partnership between the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) and the Netherlands government. Following the recommendations of a scoping mission report done by Dutch experts in July of 2014, the next phase of the study aims to develop a coastal protection plan that "must include an integrated long-term vision, including any PPP funding opportunities, and connect to other plans or master plan for reconstruction." During his presentation at the launch, Team Leader and Coastal Engineer George Peters said that deliverables of the project also include stakeholder consultation and transfer of knowledge on “building with nature” and urban planning.

How the project began

GM Abaya revealed that since 2013, PRA has been conceptualizing how conventional reclamation can be tinkered not just as island structures for habitation but for protection. Abaya stressed that the coastal protection does not need to be massive "but must be ingenious." He also added that, "They need not be all engineering structures but should include environmental intervention."

With a concept in line with the Netherlands' "building with nature" approach, PRA requested the Dutch government to access its Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) Facility to explore the possibility of developing a master plan for coastal defense and protection of areas which were severely devastated by Typhoon Yolanda (international name Haiyan). The Dutch government granted the request and sent a team of experts for a scoping mission in July 2014. This resulted to a report recommending further studies for the efficient implementation of a coastal protection and development strategy for Tacloban City and Palo.

In July 2015, the Netherlands Enterprise Agency RVO awarded the required undertaking to a team led by Royal Haskoning DHV, a Dutch company known for international engineering and project management consultancy. Other Dutch companies and civil society groups namely, Arcadis, Deltares, Rebel Group, Van Oord, Netherlands Red Cross, and Wetlands International complete the consortium. These organizations possess expertise on DRR and flood management.

Project output

The study, which also considers the Comprehensive Land Use Plans (CLUP) of Tacloban City and Municipality of Palo, is expected to be accomplished within six months. The PRA and the Dutch consortium will then present a sustainable coastal protection strategy to the two local government units for integration to their respective CLUPs.

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During the kick-off ceremony for the Coastal Defense Master Planning for Tacloban City and Palo, Leyte, Project Team Leader and Coastal Engineer George Peters presents the vision and main deliverables of the project.