The rise (of flood) in Metro Manila: lessons and opportunities

August 24, 2012 / By  

Metro Manila experienced heavy flooding again following days of torrential rain in the recent weeks. The amount of rainfall rivaled that brought about by the tropical storm Ondoy three years ago. The widespread flooding in Metro Manila in 2009 not only affected the real estate values but was instrumental in reshaping urban development trends consequently.

Physical damages and emotional stress from such continual flooding have added to the strong demand for high-rise accommodation. As of August 2012, the total number of new residential condominium units which will be made available within the next three years is more than 142,000 units. As high-rise accommodation presents a better housing alternative for urban dwellers, the developers are also looking for locations that are less prone to flooding. This has led to an observed increase in real estate values in certain areas, where new communities could be established.

While the flooding and the need for high-rise accommodation seem inevitable, a more balanced and holistic development should be advocated. The infrastructure (including adequate drainage) and support facilities and services should be sufficient to provide a more sustainable growth of these high-density developments/precincts. Indiscriminate development without concern of the local social and environmental impact could not only result in further degradation of the community and quality of the environment, but led to imbalanced sprawl and artificially inflated real estate values, which could have far more damaging repercussions in the future.

At the same time, this phenomenon presents a new venue to review and look at how other neighbouring countries have resolved the issue of balanced development in providing affordable and safe accommodation, especially for the low- and middle-market segments. Flood-prone areas are not necessarily ineffective to rebuild, but new technologies and measures to minimise the adverse impact of frequent and damaging flooding on property developments should be introduced in the process.

With a more conscious commitment to providing balanced urban and property development, the movement of real estate values is sure to follow a steady, long-term growth path, while the inefficiencies that may be brought forth by indiscriminate building will also be minimised.

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