Ormoc is a highly urbanized coastal port city, serving as the economic, cultural, commercial, and transportation hub of western Leyte. Given its geographical location, Ormoc is highly susceptible to natural hazards and extreme weather events. A number of barangays in Ormoc located along the shore are particularly vulnerable to flooding, although the rural agricultural areas are also at high risk for disasters.

While super typhoon Haiyan, which ravaged huge parts of the country’s eastern seaboard in 2013, did not directly hit Ormoc, it still brought strong winds that caused damage; power and communications lines were cut off and roads were left impassable. In July 2017, Ormoc and neighbouring cities were hit by an earthquake. A few deaths were reported, and the Department of Public Works and Highways in the region estimated at least PHP 271 million in damages. The city was in a state of calamity.

Vulnerability to extreme weather events coupled with urbanization makes Ormoc an ideal partner city for the project. With 90% of structures concentrated in the city proper, urban congestion is increasingly a problem that affects quality of life in the urban area.

Veronica Hitosis, Policy and Legislation Unit Head of the League of Cities of the Philippines, gave opening remarks citing the rationale behind selecting Ormoc as a partner city out of 145 cities. “We want Ormoc to be a knowledge hub in terms of sharing with other cities the knowledge it acquires during the project period,” Ms. Hitosis remarked. “Cities understand urban planning and design [in very concrete terms]. We can have an even better appreciation of the technical concepts, and what constitute climate resilient urban planning and design. For a very long time we haven’t had heterogenous stakeholders in projects like this, this is a welcome first.”

As part of the project’s capacity development, the first in a series of training workshops on Climate Resilient Urban Planning and Design for Ormoc City, one of the five partner cities, was held on 5–6 November 2017 at Sabin Hotel, Ormoc City, Leyte.

The two-day workshop had almost 30 participants, mostly from local government units and the rest from regional offices of national agencies and professional groups.