The residents of La Flora, Talacogon municipality, have adapted to the annual flooding of the Agusan River. In the distant past, when there were no paved highways and the Agusan River served as the main transportation artery, settlements were located along the river. Boathouses or floating houses were already in existence even then.
Now, the tradition of building floating houses, and houses on stilts (or elevated houses) has become a means for adating to worsening flooding events. The situation has become even more complex with typhoons also now affecting the community. Moreover, the recent floods have been characterized by strong currents. Thus the floating houses and houses on stilts, predominantly made of light materials, are now also more prone to damage cause by a typhoon's strong winds. Or they may be washed away by the flood's strong currents.
As always, the capacity to adapt is determined by the resources available to households. Poor households have floating or elevated houses made of materials of poorer quality. Maintenance and repair is also an issue.
A tree-house is a testament to the poor's ingenuity to adapt to his/her situation. Unfortunately, such ingenuity would not transform a poor household into a resilient one overnight. But it is a good foundation on which resilient households and communities can be built on.
The Partners for Resilience project has been implemented in the barangay since 2011. A follow-up project, Proud of my Purok, will be implemented in the barangay until 2017. A humanitarian response project was also implemented in La Flora following typhoon Washi (Sendong).
In the #PartnersforResilience project, community members and local government units were trained on ecosystem-based and climate-smart disaster risk reduction. Contingency and risk reduction plans were subsequently developed. Contingency plans and early warning systems were tested for their effectiveness through drills. Small-scale mitigation activities that at the same time serve to strengthen livelihoods were also implemented.
An example of a livelihood activity that also serves as mitigation is planting of bamboos. The bamboos are foreseen to reduce riverbank erosion and flooding, and will provide additional income to the community in the future. Among others, bamboo is widely used for the floaters of houses. At present, they are sourced from outside the municipality and the costs are prohibitive.