Workshop paper | New landscapes in recovered riparian corridors: ‘danger zone’ evictions and ‘flood-resilient’ infrastructure in Manila’s waterways

Workshop on Delta/Coastal Cities and Environmental Change, 2019 October 19-20, Shanghai, China

Expediting the full implementation of the Metro Manila Flood Management Project (MMFMP) in response to the 2009 Ondoy (Ketsana) disaster prompted the systematic eviction of informal settlers in ‘danger zones’, particularly along the waterways. As slums along embankments were demolished and 44,186 riparian households were dispossessed, easements were recovered—their edges converted into revetment walls and ripraps, retrofitted to accommodate pumping stations, and paved into linear parks. In smaller creeks, overgrowth was left to colonise the strip of land where shacks and slums once stood. Manila’s riparian corridors are gradually being transformed by ‘danger zone’ evictions carried out in the name of flood and disaster resilience. This paper explores the emergent changes in the landscape along the eight priority waterways identified in the project, by considering how these recovered spaces were envisioned in plans. Through a critical discourse analysis of project documents and plans, it describes how the implementation of the MMFMP via flood mitigation infrastructure developments, urban drainage improvements, and ‘danger zone’ evictions, is reconfiguring the metropolitan region’s waterways. Reading the spatial transformation of Manila’s peripheral landscapes as a question of urban justice, I end with critical reflections on its implications for informal settlers’ housing struggles. 

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