Climate-Resilient Water Infrastructure: Guidelines and Lessons from the USAID Be Secure Project

Climate-Resilient Water Infrastructure - Guidelines and Lessons from the USAID Be Secure Project.pdf

The Water Security for Resilient Economic Growth and Stability (Be Secure) Project in the Philippines is a four-year activity that seeks to improve water security to support resilient and stable economic growth in the Philippines. It is being implemented by AECOM International Development with funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in close coordination with the Government of the Philippines. The project promotes good governance, builds capacity in water security, improves access to water and sanitation services, and builds more resilient communities.

Be Secure is implemented in six focal areas: Basilan, Iloilo, Leyte, Maguindanao and Misamis Oriental Provinces and the Zamboanga Peninsula. At the national level, activities focus on strengthening water sector regulatory reform. For local and regional activities, the project works with local government units (LGUs) and water service providers (WSPs) at the watershed scale to improve capacities for integrating climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction into local planning and the provision of water supply and sanitation services. Key counterparts include national government agencies, LGUs, and public and private WSPs. Be Secure also works in partnership with academic institutions as centers of excellence that can sustain project initiatives.

One of the initiatives of Be Secure is to develop climate resilient communities. USAID’s Climate- Resilient Development Framework has adopted the definition of “climate resilience” described by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as the capacity of a system to “anticipate, absorb, accommodate, or recover from the effects of a hazardous event in a timely and efficient manner, including through ensuring the preservation, restoration, or improvement of its essential basic structures and functions.”

Consistent with the guideline issued by the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) on the Reconstruction Assistance on Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), Be Secure assisted partners in Leyte that were hard-hit by the Super Typhoon to plan and rebuild communities, and to not only repair damaged water systems but to make improvements and “build back better.” Following the typhoon, the project worked with LGUs, WSPs and international agencies under the umbrella of the rehabilitation task force created by the national government to build stronger and climate-resilient water supply and sanitation infrastructure. Be Secure responded by helping communities replace leaking pipes and damaged faucets at schools; install cisterns; bury exposed water lines; and install steel water tanks. The project’s assistance ensured that these water supply systems and facilities were built to withstand or are better protected from impacts of climate-related hazards such as typhoons, storm surge, and flooding.

This paper compiles data and information on the range of practices in infrastructure design found throughout the Philippines, and how the infrastructure was affected by climate-related events such as damaging storms like Yolanda, as well as droughts during El Niño periods. Using Be Secure’s experience to build climate-resilient water supply infrastructure, the paper guides WSPs and LGUs on best practices for building and sustaining climate-resilient water supply systems. The lessons gleaned from the experiences illustrated herein are intended to be used as a learning tool for securing sustainable water supplies in a climate-altered future.