Monday, 23 November 2020 10:28


Written by Oro TIPC

17 November 2020—Cagayan de Oro City successfully pitched its comprehensive multi-site, climate-adaptive project to an international audience of possible funders, aid and development agencies, multinational companies, and domestic and foreign government executives during Part 2 of Urban Resilience Investment Forum 2020 organized by the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN Habitat).

The culmination of three (3) year’s work under UN Habitat’s Building Climate Resilience through Urban Plan and Designs Project (BCRUPD), Project Lunhaw, employs a ridge-to-reef approach (holistic protection of coastal areas by targeting environmental issues in the uplands) and combines blue and green strategies (water and nature integrative solutions) to mitigate climate hazards affecting the city.

Designing the future

Climate and Disaster Risk Assessment (CDRA) conducted under the project reveal Cagayan de Oro’s future as beset by rising temperatures and increasing rainfall volume, triggering extreme events such as storm surges, as well as coastal and inland flooding. 


Guided by the UN Habitat-engaged Arcadis, a design and consultancy firm that champions sustainable urbanization, and the Project Lunhaw Steering Committee headed by City Mayor Oscar Moreno and UN Habitat’s Country Mission Director and Cagayan de Oro native Christopher Rollo, the project’s Technical Working Group (TWG) took on the task of designing a 3-part mitigation scheme for these hazards: Lunhaw West, Lunhaw Central, and Lunhaw East.


Lunhaw West and East cover hinterland and coastal areas east and west of the Cagayan de Oro River, where natural water flow will be mapped and water retention and discharge options identified and implemented to alleviate fluvial (river-caused) and pluvial (rain-caused) flooding in the lowlands, supply households and irrigate crops in the hinterlands, as well as recharge the aquifer (water-bearing underground layers).


Lunhaw Central covers the central business district along National Route 9 of the Philippine highway network, and the Cagayan de Oro river, the pilot projects for which are Plaza Divisoria and the Riverside Park.


Plaza Divisoria will be converted into a walkable, bikable heritage park, introducing green and water features to improve ambient temperature, permeable paving for surface runoff absorption, and water catchments to sequester rain and supply the water features, while preserving the park’s historical value. The park shall set the standard for open spaces in the City.


The Riverside Park shall be turned into an urban forest with endemic tree and mangrove species to serve as carbon sink and mitigate flood. Seamlessly connected paths of permeable materials shall encourage alternative urban mobiliy, while areas for play, sports, picnics, and fishing will spark activity where ideal ventilation shall prevent the spread of airborne vectors.


The existing flood risk management project for the Cagayan de Oro River (FRIMP-CDOR) flood wall will serve as a promenade connecting Plaza Divisoria to the Riverside Park.


Community support 


Reactors invited to provide instant feedback on the presentation unanimously expressed concurrence with and support for project implementation.

Engr. Gil Iturralde, Project Manager, Flood Risk Management Project for Cagayan de Oro River (FRIMP-CDOR), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) 

“The plan jives with structural measures and land use regulations,” according to Engr. Gil Iturralde, Project Manager of the Flood Risk Mitigation Project for the Cagayan de Oro River (FRIMP-CDOR), which the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) is undertaking with funding and technical assistance from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA),

The bike and boulevard network planned for the FRIMP-CDOR flood wall, as well as the dike offset in the river mouth area to protect and conserve existing mangroves and nipa, dovetail with the Divisoria development, he said. He also mentioned Islas Baksan and Puntod as potential park sites, ending with the summation that Project Lunhaw is a good component for FRIMP-CDOR.

Dr. Hilly Ann Roa-Quiaoit, Executive Director, of the Cagayan de Oro River Basin Management Council (CDORBC) said that they are very happy with the integrated landscape-seascape approach, which reflects the city’s efforts to balance economic development with environmental protection. 

Dr. Hilly Ann Roa-Quiaoit, Executive Director, Cagayan de Oro River Basin Management Council (CDORBMC) 

 “The design builds on sustainability,” Dr. Quiaoit observed, commenting that the system for recirculating rainwater for cleaning and watering plants will conserve maintenance costs and further suggesting the mainstreaming of fees for environmental services to offset the same.

“These are exciting times for Cagayan de Oro,” remarked Engr. Elpidio Paras, President of Promote Northern Mindanao, Foundation, Inc. (Promote NORMIN), and a member of the team that won for Cagayan de Oro the grand prize in the country’s First Livable Cities Design Challenge (2014).

Engr. Elpidio Paras, President, Promote Northern Mindanao Foundation, Inc. (Promote NORMIN)

He went on to say that the private sector is supportive of the project. “Looking at it from the point of view of a businessman, open spaces attract people, and business ideas will abound,” he added.

“This is a legacy project for the city as well as a catalyst for development,” Engr. Paras continued. The project could herald the advent of innovative urban mobility ideas such as urban gondolas or cable cars, he said.

Engr. Paras cautioned, however, that the city will have to address the presence of informal settlers, as well as the continuity of project implementation across administrations.

National Economic and Development Authority Region X Director Mylah Fate Aurora B. Cariño warmly congratulated the City of Cagayan de Oro and showed how Project Lunhaw aligns with Northern Mindanao Regional Development Plan 2017-2022, which she said, “is anchored on the national spatial strategy of concentration, connectivity, and vulnerability reduction.”Regional Director Mylah Faye Aurora B. Cariño, CESO III, National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), Regional Office No. 10

She advised the city that a full-blown feasibility study needs to be undertaken and invited the city to seek the endorsement of the Regional Development Council of Region X, to enroll research topics to the Regional Development Policy Research Agenda  (RDPRA), and to consider public-private partnership (PPP) financing options.

We cannot succeed alone 

In his final pitch, Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno thanked the reactors for their support and advice and reiterated how Project Lunhaw is relevant not only to city, but the region. 

“Cagayan de Oro cannot succeed alone, he said. “Cagayan de Oro must lead and be focal point of region, the convergence, trade, healthcare, and education center, the transport hub, the center for growth, development and environment-related projects.” 

Hon. Oscar S. Moreno, City Mayor, Cagayan de Oro

“In Cagayan de Oro,” the Mayor added, “the river is inescapable.” The city’s history has everything to do with the river, he said. “But over the years, we have gotten used to turning our backs on the river,” he lamented.

The Mayor foresees that, “Lunhaw will change that mindset.”