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Siargao Urban Resilient Future (Del Carmen SURF) Project

Submitted by Jose Arianne Go... 13th October 2020 14:17


Del Carmen, a municipality in Siargao Island, Surigao del Norte is experiencing rapid influx of migrants, tourists, and commercial establishments This has created serious solid waste management challenges which are adversely affecting the quality of life of local communities. The current waste collection rate in the municipality is about 10%, and uncontrolled dumpsites and illegal waste disposal practices have proliferated, damaging the marine and island environment (Municipality of Del Carmen, 2016). 

Illegal dumping of waste is on the rise in the Island. Photo Credit: PRRM

Local communities and the environment are already being stressed by climate change e.g. rising temperatures and saltwater intrusion have reduced agricultural production and damaged livelihood opportunities. Future climate scenarios from the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) project an increase of between 0.9oC to 2.1oin mean temperatureduring the island’s dry season. Biodiversity, the marine ecosystem, agriculture production and fishingwater supply and public health will be increasingly stressed by climate change. Higher temperatures will hasten waste decomposition and will affect local communities, destroying the aesthetics of their island community and increasing health risks. Climate change impacts and uncontrolled solid waste management is and will become an ever-increasing toxic mix for communities and the environment.  

Booming Toursim industry:
Tourists boarding to visit one of Del Carmen's famous attractions, the Sugba Lagoon
Photo Credit: PRRM

This project page presents the Siargao Urban Resilient Future (Del Carmen SURF)” project, which aims to improve the resilience of the community by strengthening its solid waste management system.


The community-led project (CLP) places urban poor communities as active and informed participants at the centre of the process of resilience planning, from assessment to implementationand gives them a role in the maintenance of CLPsThrough the Community Resilience Planning (CRP) process, people from poor and vulnerable groups work together with other stakeholders from government and the private sector to collect and analyse data about how hazards impact vulnerable groups and livelihoods and design and agree resilience solutions.  The CRP process requires strong social mobilization, communication and engagement with all stakeholders. It also requires the creation of the Community Stakeholder Group (CSG), an institutional and multi-sectoral mechanism for transparent and effective information sharing, decision-making and implementation of community decisions and actions. 

Source: Project Methodology, ADB-RETA 9329


Community-Led Resilience Project

Through the Community Resilience Planning process, Del Carmen community stakeholders identified and developed the community-led project called “Siargao Urban Resilient Future (Del Carmen SURF)” which aims to improve the resilience of the community by strengthening its solid waste management system.  The project will establish a community-based waste recovery and recycling center and implement solid waste management technologies. 

Community members discuss actions to address the growing waste problem in their area. Photo Credit: PRRM


Del Carmen SURF is the very first waste recovery and recycling facility in the island of Siargao. The Waste Recovery and Recycling Program is a community-managed recovery and recycling system centered around a Material Recovery Facility (MRF) where biodegradable waste materials are processed into compost fertilizer; recyclable plastic materials are recovered, recycled or sold; and residual wastes are processed and melted to form recycled bricks and construction materials (Asian Development Bank, 2013).

Del Carmen Waste Recycling and Recovery Facility. The project design was developed in collaboration with municipal and community stakeholders. The feasibility study team further developed the nature-based solutions with PRRM and the Community Stakeholders Group.  Photo Credit: PRRM 

Gender and Social Inclusion

Women and youth groups are involved in project development and implementation. Community-based solid waste management is driven by strong volunteerism, but the burden of volunteering falls on womenThis assumes women have time, however to volunteer they transfer unpaid care and household work to other women (e.g. the eldest daughter or grandmother).  Transferring home care work to other women affects their productivity, time for education, self-care and enterprise. Women working in waste separation, waste collection promotion and other waste management activities should get paid for doing work and the time they invest should be properly acknowledged. The provision of child-minding facilities in recycling centers can help women in their child-minding duties making it less worrisome to do solid waste management work while taking care of toddlers. Also, the youth have expressed their commitment to marketing the recycled products through social media. 

Issues and Challenges

The implementation of the CLP requires addressing several challenges including the need to strengthen the community’s technical and operational capacity to manage and maintain the waste recovery and recycling center, and market the composts and recycled products. The CSG will need to develop linkages with the private sector to improve waste recovery value chains. New livelihoods will need to be created to support the recovery and recycling of wastes. The municipality will also need to contribute to financing the project’s operations and maintenance cost by securing institutional funding through the local government budget. 

Expected Results and Impact of the Project

The project aims to address the waste management needs of its burgeoning tourism and commercial industry. The fully functional solid waste management facility will significantly increase waste management in Del Carmen from the current 10% total waste collection rate to potential waste recovery rate of up to 87% at full project implementation. This in effect will decrease the amount of trash regularly shipped from Siargao Island to mainland Mindanao which carries inherent risks of polluting the marine environment. It will also reduce unsustainable waste management practices in the communityThe facility will (1) reduce the volume of wastes disposed of by the community, (2) reduce the budget for  urban services allocated by the local government for community waste management and inter-island hauling of wastes, (3) reduce the incidence of illegal waste disposal e.g. illegal dumpsites, garbage burning and disposal into bodies of water in the community, (4) reduce adverse environmental impacts of improper waste management such as marine pollution, air pollution and methane emission, and (5) generate green jobs and livelihoods especially for poor people who are now dependent on the informal sector.  

The project is also exploring a ‘’pay as you throw’’ (PAYT) scheme for the growing number of tourism-based businesses in the central business district, such as restaurants, bars, souvenir shops and stores. The waste recovery and recycling center is expected to bring in revenue from solid waste collection service fees and income from the sale of recyclable waste and recycled products. It is intended that this revenue will cover on-going operational and maintenance costs.  Finally, the system can be replicated by other municipalities on the island, and in the province of Surigao del Norte. 

Del Carmen business district. Photo Credit: PRRM


Further Resources