Resilient Resettlements


Lala Magayanes presents the Theory of Change to stakeholders in Manila.

The Philippines is one of the most rapidly urbanizing countries in Asia due to sustained high rates of population growth and rural-to-urban migration. According to the Asian Development Bank (2014), urban populations are expected to rise from five of ten individuals (48.9%) in 2010 to seven of ten (72.3%) by 2020. This growth will be accompanied by a rise in the number of informal settler families (ISFs) as a result of the government’s lack of capacity to address comprehensive housing and urban development planning.

ISFs (including an estimated 300,000 children) often live in danger zones such as riverbanks, under bridges and flood-prone areas; live in lands and houses without security of tenure; and, are at risk of being displaced and relocated under the governments’ resettlement programs intended to clear waterways and prevent flooding.

Children living in informal settlements and relocation areas are facing threats varying from the lack of child protection, health services, education, discrimination, and non-inclusion.

As a response, Save the Children Philippines (SCP) crafted the Building Urban Children’s Resilience against Shocks and Threats of Resettlement (BURST) project, a four-year project (August 2017 – July 2021) supported by the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP) of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Australia and Save the Children Australia (SCA).

The BURST project aims to reach at least 38,757 adults and 25,838 most vulnerable and marginalized children of ISFs living in urban poor communities and resettlement areas in Metro Manila. The project aims to attain the following outcomes:

From research to implementation plan.
  1. Improved the quality of social services that promote positive coping capacity and improve the resilience of girls and boys and other families from harmful impacts of urbanization and disasters, through the constructive engagement between government and civil society;
  2. Girls and boys and their families engage their government to claim their rights to basic social services and protection from risks and hazards that may be gender-related or resulting from living in informal settlements or relocation sites; and,
  3. Local policies that address the priority needs, including gender-specific needs of girls and boys living in informal settlements and relocation sites are in place.

The project addresses four sub-problems identified through a comprehensive research project, called the Urban Resettlement of Filipino Informal Settler Families and Children: Roots, Dynamics, and Impacts by the Institute of Philippine Culture, School of Social Sciences at the Ateneo de Manila Univerisity in April 2018.

  • Children lack access to safe public spaces. Resettlement communities lack nature and child-centered spaces (safe, inclusive, and social places) for play.
  • Parents lack access to livelihood options. Transportation to inner-city jobs is limited. Local jobs are few and skills are mismatched.
  • Children lack the opportunity to participate in decision-making during the resettlement process.
  • Physical hazards obstruct the environment of the resettlement sites.