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Unlocking the Philippines’ urbanization potential

Judy Baker's picture


Fostering Livable Cities
The Philippines is one of the fastest urbanizing countries in East Asia and the Pacific. This can bring many opportunities for growth and poverty reduction. Cities become engines of growth if well planned and well managed.

Rapid urbanization in the Philippines has brought new jobs, educational opportunities, and better living conditions for some. However, it has also brought challenges, which you’ll see when you move around the streets of Metro Manila. It’s a large sprawling metropolitan area of over 12 million, with congestion that is estimated to cost US$70 million (₱3.5 billion) a day. When it rains, streets and homes are quickly flooded because many drains are clogged or non-existent. Because of lack of affordable housing, an estimated 11 percent of the city’s population live in slums. With 17 cities and municipalities in the metropolitan area, trying to tackle these challenges becomes stuck in deep complexities of urban governance and management. While other cities in the Philippines don’t face the scale of these challenges, they tackle similar issues.

2010: Continued support in the midst of snow and smoke

Badamchimeg Dondog's picture
Also available in: Mongolian
As we continue with our stories of 25 years in 25 days, today we bring 2010 under the spotlight. My very first thought of 2010 brings me back to sunny and hot Brisbane, Australia where I studied at the time for a graduate degree. In early January that year, after completing my first year of studies, I decided to come home for a quick visit just in time for the Lunar New Year celebrations. As I stood at the Brisbane International Airport, still in a light T-shirt, I did not realize how much I was underestimating the warnings my parents had given me, repeatedly, regarding the snow and smoke situation back home. Coming from the heat and humidity down under, when I landed in UB I experienced a 60 degree Celsius temperature difference as that winter was exceptionally cold with heavy snow and sharp temperature drops (below minus 40 degrees Celsius) in most parts of the country. And the smoke made me continuously wonder if I had forgotten so quickly how bad it was though I had left for Australia only a year earlier. Many others had similar reflections, including Mr. Arshad Sayed, the World Bank Country Manager for Mongolia at the time, who blogged about the terrible dzud we experienced that winter in rural parts of the country and the air pollution situation in the nation’s capital.

2010: Зудын хохирлыг арилгах, утаатай тэмцэхэд дэмжлэгээ үргэлжлүүлсээр

Badamchimeg Dondog's picture
Also available in: English

Албан бус орчуулга.

25 жилийн түүхээ 25 өдөрт багтаан бичиж байгаа аяныхаа хүрээнд өнөөдөр 2010 оны онцлох үйл явдлуудыг эргэн саная. 2010 оныг эргэн дурсахад над хамгийн түрүүнд нарлаг, халуун Австралийн Брисбан санаанд орж байна. Брисбанд би суралцаж, бакалаврын боловсрол эзэмшсэн билээ. 2010 оны эхээр Цагаан сарын амралтыг ашиглан гэртээ түргэхэн харьчихаад ирэхээр шийдсэн. Брисбаны олон улсын онгоцны буудалд богино ханцуйтай нимгэн цамцтай буухдаа цас болон утааны нөхцөл байдлын талаар эцэг эхийн над өгч байсан зөвлөгөөг тоомсорлоогүй явсанаа ойлгосон. Халуун, чийглэг уур амьсгалтай газраас Улаанбаатарт газардахдаа цельсийн 60 хэмийн зөрөөг мэдэрсэн. Тэр өвөл үнэхээр хүйтэн байж, цас их унаж, Монголын газар нутгийн ихэнх хэсэгт агаарын хэм цельсийн 40 хэм хүрч байлаа. Утааны асуудал намайг зовоосоор байсан ч энэ бол муу зүйл гэдгийг ийм амархан мартсандаа гайхсан. Бусад хүн ч мөн над шиг зүйлийг мэдэрсэн байсан. Тухайлбал, тухайн үед Дэлхийн Банкны суурин төлөөлөгчөөр ажиллаж байсан  Аршад Саед. Тэрбээр  зудын гамшгийн тухай блогтоо бичиж байсан бөгөөд бид хамтдаа Монголын алслагдсан аймгуудын хахир өвлийг мөн нийслэл хотын агаарын бохирдлыг мэдэрч байсан.

Vietnam: Say NO to plastic bags for a prosperous Year of the Dragon

Hoang Duc Minh's picture

Cũng có ở Tiếng việt

Pop singer Ngoc Khue and MC My Linh, along with 80 volunteers, took part in a flash mob to support the ‘I Hate Nylon’ project.

These days, when most people in Vietnam stay home to celebrate the Lunar New Year (locally known as Tet holiday), hundreds of Vietnamese youth flocked to the streets of Hanoi, the country’s capital, to work on a community project to reduce plastic bag usage in the city.

The ‘I Hate Nylon’ project (plastic bags are commonly called nylon bags in Vietnam) aims to raise Vietnamese people’s awareness about the dangers of plastic bag usage through several community activities before the Lunar New Year, the biggest holiday in Vietnam when people consume a lot of plastic bags.

Ulaanbaatar’s air pollution crisis: Summertime complacency won’t solve the wintertime problem

Arshad Sayed's picture
No mountains are visible beyond this pollution cloud. (Late November 2007)

It certainly feels like the worst of winter is over for another year, well until December anyway. Daytime temperatures now reach above 0 Celsius (32 Fahrenheit) regularly, the city’s ice sculptures have melted and the slippery footpaths have thawed, making walking in the city safer and easier. There’s also a visible improvement in Ulaanbaatar’s (UB) air quality.

On most days, from my office window, I can now see the beautiful snow-dappled mountains that surround UB; during the heavily polluted winter months the horizon is completely hidden behind a thick grey-brown smoky haze. 

Deep winter in Mongolia often means extreme cold, smog

David Lawrence's picture

This morning, my kids stood waiting for the school bus, crying. The bus was late, and they had been outside for about three minutes. No wonder. The temperature outside was -39 degrees Celsius. I thought we had bundled them up enough; they had so many layers on that they looked like astronauts. But they were still freezing.

This winter is especially cold. It's in the 30 degrees below zero every day, and has dipped below -40°C.  In some parts of Mongolia, it has fallen below -50°C. There is frost on the windows of our office.

Giving conservationists and nature lovers (some) reason to hope for the future

Tony Whitten's picture

It’s high time I write something which doesn’t seem to be the work of a manic-depressive. Many of my blogs have majored on the negatives, but I honestly wouldn’t be in this business if I didn’t have within me a deep-rooted hope for the future. As I have remarked before, conservationists are a wonderful band, but put a group of ebullient conservation friends together, and within half an hour the conversation has quieted down, turned grumpy, and you need to watch out in case any of them looks as though they are contemplating jumping from the office balcony or a handy cliff. We don’t celebrate the successes, or even the potential ones, enough. It’s a cliché to say that the war is being lost while battles are being won, but we should at least encourage each other with battle victory parties.

Mongolia's growing shantytowns: the cold and toxic ger districts

David Lawrence's picture


Children breathe thick, toxic smog from thousands of stoves in Ulaanbaatar's ger districts, which are home to 60 percent of the city's population.
There’s no capital city anywhere in the world with a housing problem like Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Imagine a city of one million people. Then imagine 60 percent of them living in settlements without water, sanitation or basic infrastructure, often in traditional Mongolian felt tents, known as gers. Then imagine these people relying on wood- or coal-burning stoves for cooking and heating, with fuel costs eating up 40 percent of their income. Then imagine the discomfort of having to get up in the middle of the night when it’s -35 degrees Celsius to go to the bathroom – outdoors.

Worst of all, imagine you and your children breathing the thick, toxic smog from thousands of stoves 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Unfortunately, this is not imagination, this is the real situation for over a half million people living in the ger districts of the capital. Not a pretty picture.

Call for a green China: permanent improvement, with room for more

David Dollar's picture

Children perform during "Call for Green China" – a unique cultural tour to raise awareness about pressing environmental issues in China and possible solutions.
The old people in the park are saying that this was the best April in 20-plus years in terms of air quality here in Beijing. There has been permanent improvement based on some of the changes made for the Olympics: some factories relocated to less populous areas, restrictions on private car use, improved public transportation as an alternative.

Other factors are more long term – the sandstorms common when I lived here in 1986 are largely gone, owing to successful re-greening efforts west of here. There was a frenzied pace of construction as modern Beijing was being built, which has naturally slowed down – construction dust was a key part of air pollution here.

There is more room for improvement, but the progress was notable during a lovely April. One key issue going forward will be to continue to control private vehicle use.