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Informal Settlements in Davao City

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  • Pages: 3
  • Word count: 659
  • Category: Poverty

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Urban housing is a worldwide need, especially urgent in rapidly growing cities of the developing world, evident in unplanned and informal communities. These are examples of the informal sector housing – often described as squatter settlements or “slums” – that represent latent assets and the basis of urban solutions (Bhatt, 2004).

In Davao City, the increasing number of informal settlers can be attributed to the rapid urbanization in the city. As a result of the rapid and extraordinary growth, the shelter problems of the poor have increased in scale and in severity.

The proliferation of illegal squatting activities for the past years is quite alarming. At present, several property owners have sought the assistance of the City Government in clearing out the illegal settlers that have occupied their properties.

There is a downside to the flood of investment pouring into Davao City: a tsunami of informal settlers putting up hovels in riverbanks, coastal areas, roadsides in highways and any available spaces that are considered danger zones.

Figure 1: Informal Settlements

As Davao City progresses, more people from outside particularly the poor are coming in to stake their lot and future on better opportunities in the city. Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte said the informal settlers come from neighboring provinces and regions either to escape violence or migrate to the city for economic opportunities (Balanza, 2012).

Figure 2: Settlers along the banks of Davao River

Transmigration is a universal economic thing: people go to places where they could have a peaceful and better future. Social workers say many of newly-arrived informal settlers here come from regions wracked by violence or small vendors from other provinces temporarily pitching shanties anywhere as they find their place under the sun in this city of 1.4 million dubbed as the premier city of Mindanao.

However, the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) in Davao announced that the region is the only one in the entire Mindanao that posted a decrease in poverty incidence by 0.6 percent in 2011.

Bonifacio Uy, assistant regional director of NEDA -Davao, said the entire Davao Region did not suffer much from poverty compared to other regions in Mindanao, placing the entire region on the eighth spot among all the regions in the country with a recorded poverty incidence last year. Uy attributed this to the good business climate in the region and the pouring in of more investments that generated more jobs (Colina, 2012).

Although the poverty rate of the city had decreased, the fast-growing densely packed slums and shanty towns can still be seen everywhere. They spilled into narrow, muddy pathways snaking through perpetually flooded marshlands or alongside fetid canals. Others clung to precarious hillside perches or clustered at the desert fringes of the city. Wherever they settled, their degraded environments and poverty-stricken lives reached levels of collective misery rarely seen in even the poorest rural villages. Yet, their energy and drive to establish a toehold in the city in the hope of a better future were a source of wonder and admiration. It has been argued that the formation of the “slums” is in part due to large scale unemployment in urban areas. The only way for this problem to be solved is for the national government to increase its economic status to be able to provide employment to people.


The government should provide a budget in their investment plan for relocation of the informal settlers and provide employment to the less fortunate people to sustain their everyday living. Informal settlements can only be solve if the government would initiate in its development and be truthful on the way they provide services for the poor.


Antonio L. Colina IV (March 23, 2012), Sunstar Davao Newspaper, http://www.sunstar.com.ph/davao/business/2012/03/23/neda-poverty-incidence-davao-decreases-2011212 811

Roger M. Balanza (January 19, 2012), Durian Post, Word Press, http://durianpost.wordpress.com/2012/01/19/davao-city-turning-into-haven-for-poor/

Vikram Bhatt (2004), Time-Saver Standards for Urban Design, McGraw Hill Companies

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