USAID project includes Legazpi City

LEGAZPI CITY, May 16 --An official of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) said Legazpi City had been selected to become part of a five-year flagship project in the Philippines seeking to hasten economic growth and urban development in secondary cities outside of Metro Manila.

Jeremy Gustafson, director of the USAID Office of Environment, Energy and Climate Change, told the participants to a multisectoral forum here on Tuesday, that the project called “Strengthening Urban Resilience for Growth with Equity” or SURGE, would aim to promote a “broad-based, inclusive and resilient” type of economic growth in secondary cities of the country.

“SURGE is the flagship project of USAID’s Cities Development Initiatives (CDI) under the broader Partnership for Growth,” he said.

Aside from Legazpi City, SURGE supports the cities of Batangas, Cagayan de Oro, Iloilo, Puerto Princesa, Tagbilaran, Zamboanga and General Santos.

He said in line with CDI’s approach of providing a multi-faceted package of assistance, SURGE works with existing USAID projects focused on economic growth, environment, energy, climate change, health and education.

Gustafson said the component activities of the project were in such areas as climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction, water and sanitation, investment promotion, marketing agreements, land tenure administration and inter-municipal arrangements.

Tuesday’s multisectoral forum, which was attended by representatives from the city government, national and local government agencies, business sector, academe and civil society organizations. It is expected to serve as the mechanism to identify, prioritize and lead the implementation of the activities under SURGE.

Legazpi Mayor Noel Rosal said SURGE could harness the potential of emerging cities like Legazpi wherein the constraints to development could be addressed by the funding and technical assistance provided by USAID. “Through these projects the partner cities could become engines of growth,” he said.

Rosal expressed confidence that with USAID support the city could overcome the challenges in promoting economic growth and creating livelihood opportunities for its people.

“We can build resilient communities… and improve the quality of life of majority of our people,” he added.

Although vulnerable to natural hazards such as volcanic eruption and typhoons, Legazpi City has received citations for its strategies in climate adaptation and disaster risk reduction.

In July 2016, the city was named by the National Competitiveness Council as the third most competitive component city as based on a ranking of all cities and municipalities in the country using the criteria of economic dynamism, government efficiency and infrastructure. (PNA)