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Wanted: TUBERO

Our office is located in Cubao Expo, formerly known as the Marikina Shoe Expo near the Cubao Bus Terminal Station and Araneta Center. I took the effort to to St. Mary, Cubao in order to seriously lessen my travel time.

Each morning, I traverse the way from home to office by walking. The routine has allowed me to see plenty of things, from the fancy film posters of Alta Cinema to the high-rise buildings of Manhattan Parkview, the latest in new medium and high-end urban dwelling developments in the area.

One of the things that really catches my attention during my brief walks is the massive number of ads I see stuck on posts. It’s not just politicians’ faces vying for the public’s vote. Most fetching to me are the TUBERO ads promoting or selling a range of plumbing services.

Whenever I see them, I find myself wondering why there seems to be a great deal of plumbers in the area. I wonder quietly if there are really that many homes in constant need of plumbing.

The questions resonate in my head most times when I reach the office and get to sit down at my table to dive into climate finance.

If you ask me, I think the ads are appropriate imagery for the work I do. I think we need more plumbers simply because we are in dire need not only of more funds for climate adaptation, but of more efficient and effective ways to direct financial flows, so that resources reach people who need it the most. So that money does not leak, to use the plumbing imagery; so that it doesn’t stream into the pockets of the corrupt or s out unnecessarily. When it comes to tracking climate adaptation finance, more plumber-like thinking  is needed to avoid wastage of scarce resources, and to ensure that the right pipes are  laid out and connected, so that funds get to flow, unimpeded, to communities that genuinely and urgently require support.

I don’t think the government can do all of this on its own. Collaborative efforts will be critical in order to make sure our adaptation finance “plumbing system” is truly effective. I’d say that the plumbing system and the pipe-laying plans will require what is called by technocrats and good governance advocates as greater accountability and transparency, whether we are dealing with domestic adaptation-related funds or financing contributions from other countries.

The country needs the able services of Andi, Ramon, Sonya, Bruno, and other wittily named plumbers — in other words, citizens like you and me — to ensure that funding can be easily tracked, so that more efficient deployment of money and more effective use of funds can be carried out.

To jumpstart the “plumbing” discussions, the World Resources Institute (WRI), Overseas Development Institute (ODI), Oxfam and Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (iCSC) have decided to work together under the banner of the Adaptation Finance Accountability Initiative (AFAI). The initiative will create mechanisms and tools that, among other things, can generate greater accountability and transparency in the flow of adaptation funding coming in-to or already sloshing within the Philippines.

It’s a daunting task, but it feels worthwhile. AFAI folks like myself have been sifting through tons of data covering adaptation funding flows coming from different sources such as Germany and Australia, and the World BankAsian Development Bank (ADB) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), among others.

Creating a more representative map of adaptation finance flows in the Philippines — covering international pipes up to local and community faucets — this effort will certainly give us a better idea about where the problems and opportunities are. It will also provide many opportunities for government and civil society to fix problems together.

Tubero ads are posted in almost every corner, side, and open space of the city, and sometimes it can be too much and unpleasant to the eyes. Yet somehow, I find comfort in the thought that these ‘tuberos’ are just a phone call away. I hope I can say the same for the Philippines someday.

By: Gelo Vanguardia

Gelo heads the Adaptation Finance Accountability Initiative of iCSC. Part of his work is analyzing adaptation funding datafrom various international sources. You can contact him at gelo@ejeepney.org..

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