One might be puzzled why the Housing Agency is called the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) and perhaps, wonder as to how human settlements and urban development are connected.

Human settlement connotes not just plain housing development but the overall landscape in relation to its location, road networks, links to other public infrastructure, places of livelihood and worship, educational facilities, sources of electricity and telecommunications. In short, DHSUD is not just about building housing units but more on developing resilient communities.

Urban development meanwhile strategically identifies the specific uses of land, both public and private, within a local government’s territorial jurisdiction. It is vital that we identify ideal locations for commercial, industrial, agricultural, mixed use areas, tourism, watersheds, among others and, of course, human settlements to optimize the overall use of the land and urban growth while protecting and ensuring their sustainability for future generations.

‘Ridge to reef’

The public and private sectors must thus focus on the formulation of what we call the Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP) in order to have a meticulously crafted land use plan in every municipality and city that conforms with the provincial and regional land use plans.

From “ridge to reef” is DHSUD’s approach to the formulation of CLUPs—literally aimed at leaving no stone unturned in the proper use of land to ensure safety, sustainability and resiliency of all human settlements and urban developments throughout the country, while maximizing the potentials of our natural resources.

While CLUP formulation is the task of local government units (LGUs), the DHSUD, as the lead government agency in human settlements and urban development, is actively guiding LGUs in this endeavor to ensure cohesiveness and interconnection of their land use plans.

The “ridge-to-reef” concept or integrated ecosystems management process is done through the collaboration between LGUs and the community composed of various stakeholders such as fishermen, farmers, the Indigenous Peoples, women, urban poor, rural poor, youth, persons with disabilities, senior citizens, religious groups, investors, local elected officials and others. It’s practically a multi-sectoral plan from organization to implementation.

Laying the framework

Our country boasts of a vast expanse of land rich in resources along coastal lines, farm fields, mountains, forests, lakes, swamps, volcanos, fault lines and other geographical attributes, but there are also health and safety hazards to consider—thus, the need for CLUPs, which would cover from the mountain ranges down to the shore lines.

Indiscriminate development, without taking the lay of the land as well as the past, present and future hazards into account, can be detrimental if not catastrophic—especially since our country is prone to an average of 20 typhoons a year, hosts a number of active volcanoes and has quake-prone areas.

More than just a guide, the CLUP lays the framework for regulating growth and development. It sets actual boundaries on the ground within an LGU’s territorial jurisdiction; embodies the desired land use patterns of the city, municipality and barangay; translates and integrates sectoral plans; and provides appropriate policies for the detailed land uses within the four land use policy areas namely, settlements development, production land use, protection land use and infrastructure development.

With the proper formulation of CLUPs by the LGUs, as guided by DHSUD and other government agencies, the future of human settlements and urban development in our country is brighter and will definitely be safe, sustainable and resilient.

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