Michael Arman recently returned to URPS from the Philippines after a 2 year capacity building assignment with the Red Cross as part of the Australian Volunteers for International Development program.
Michael lived and worked in Canaman – a peri-urban municipality in the floodplain of the Bicol River, approximately 500km south of Manila. His first year saw him with work with local planners to prepare their “Comprehensive Land Use Plan” and Zoning Ordinance. This document will help anticipate climate change and natural disaster risks, while also managing urban growth pressures from the neighbouring Naga City.
During his second assignment, Michael strengthened the recently established Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) Office. A major focus of this work was undertaking participatory risk assessment activities in all 24 villages of the town. This formed the basis of a long term DRRM Plan, a Local Climate Change Action Plan and a range of emergency protocols to outline “who does what” in the event of typhoon or flood.
Typhoons Glenda and Ruby battered that part of the Philippines in July and December 2014, putting these new arrangements to the test and heightening the importance of planning for disasters with local decision makers. At the same time, it provided impetus to fast-track climate change adaptation projects. These included the Agriculture Office’s trials of salt-resistant rice that can grow even if there is saline intrusion or storm surge and the Social Welfare Office’s planned re-settlement of informal settlers along flood-prone riverbanks.
Having broadened his skills/experience and expanded his view about how to best ‘shape great communities’, we are excited to have Michael back. He is already working on the Limestone Coast Regional Climate Change Adaptation Plan, the second evaluation of the Playford Alive Urban Renewal Project and the Local Government Association Ageing Strategy. Michael is always looking for new and challenging projects in South Australia, so please contact him to discuss how he may assist you.