10 Jan 2024
 | 10 Jan 2024
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

Risk reduction through managed retreat? Investigating enabling conditions and assessing resettlement effects on community resilience in Metro Manila

Hannes Lauer, Carmeli Marie C. Chaves, Evelyn Lorenzo, Sonia Islam, and Jörn Birkmann

Abstract. Managed retreat, a key strategy in climate change adaptation for areas with high hazard exposure, raises concerns due to its disruptive nature, vulnerability issues and overall risk in the new location. On-site resettlement or near-site retreat are seen as more appropriate and effective compared to a relocation far from the former place of living, however, these conclusions often refer to only a very limited set of empirical case studies or do not sufficiently consider different context conditions and phases in relocation. Against this background, this paper examines the conditions and factors contributing to community resilience of different resettlement projects in Metro-Manila. In this urban agglomeration reside an estimated 500,000 informal households, with more than 100,000 occupying high-risk areas. In light of the already realized and anticipated climate change effects, this precarious living situation exposes families, already socio-economically vulnerable, to an increased risk of flooding. The response of the Philippine government to the vexing problem of informal dwellers has been large-scale relocation from coasts, rivers, and creeks to state-owned sites at urban fringes. Whereas only very few resettlement projects could be realized as In-City projects close to the original living space. The study employs a sequential mixed-method approach, integrating a large-scale quantitative household survey and focus group discussions (FGDs) for a robust comparison of resettlement types. Further, it reveals community-defined enabling conditions for managed retreat as climate change adaptation strategy.

Results indicate minor variations of well-being conditions between In-City and Off-City resettlement, challenging the expected impact of a more urban setting on resilience. Instead, essential prerequisites for resettlement involve reduced hazard exposure, secure tenure and safety from crime. Beyond these essential conditions, social cohesion and institutional support systems emerge as significant influencers for the successful establishment of well-functioning new settlements. With this findings, the study contributes to the expanding body of literature on managed retreat, offering a comprehensive evaluation based on extensive datasets and providing entry points for the improvement of retreat as a climate change adaptation strategy.

Hannes Lauer, Carmeli Marie C. Chaves, Evelyn Lorenzo, Sonia Islam, and Jörn Birkmann

Status: open (until 21 Feb 2024)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2024-50', Anonymous Referee #1, 26 Jan 2024 reply
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Hannes Lauer, 05 Feb 2024 reply
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2024-50', Anonymous Referee #2, 04 Feb 2024 reply
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Hannes Lauer, 15 Feb 2024 reply
Hannes Lauer, Carmeli Marie C. Chaves, Evelyn Lorenzo, Sonia Islam, and Jörn Birkmann
Hannes Lauer, Carmeli Marie C. Chaves, Evelyn Lorenzo, Sonia Islam, and Jörn Birkmann


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Short summary
In many urban areas, people face high exposure to hazards. Resettling them to safer locations becomes a major strategy, not least because of climate change. This paper dives into the success factors of government-led resettlement in Manila and finds surprising results, which challenge the usual narrative and fuel the conversation on resettlement as an adaptation strategy. Other as expected, the location – whether urban or rural – of the new home is less important as the safety from floods.