Need for shelter ‘critical’

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Sunday, February 16, 2014

CEBU CITY -- Millions of survivors remain in dire need of shelter, 100 days after Typhoon Yolanda struck the central Philippines, the United Nations (UN) warned on Saturday.

“The authorities, UN agencies and non-governmental organizations, and the Filipino people should be commended for the pace of progress.... But we cannot afford to be complacent,” UN resident and humanitarian coordinator for the Philippines Luiza Carvalho said.

“The need for durable shelter for millions of people whose homes were damaged or destroyed is critical,” she said in a statement.


A day before the UN’s warning, the Cebu Provincial Government signed with the Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW) an agreement to build 270 houses for survivors in two towns in Bantayan Island.

Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) killed 6,200 persons and injured at least 28,000 others last November 8. Nearly 2,000 remain missing. The storm also destroyed or severely damaged 1.1 million houses, leaving more than four million people homeless.

Carvalho said millions of jobs were also destroyed or impaired after Yolanda tore down or damaged 33 million coconut trees, flooded
fields with salt water, and swept away or wrecked 30,000 fishing vessels.

She said that apart from addressing food and health needs, the international aid effort provided tents and tarpaulin shelters to half a million families. Emergency employment programs pumped money into the devastated local economies.

“As the Philippines marks 100 days since the devastating super typhoon struck, our thoughts are very much with the survivors who mourn the loss of so many friends and loved ones,” Carvalho said.

“We are supporting the authorities to help survivors find closure and ensure that the affected regions build back better and safer, so that the next massive storm does not bring the terrible levels of devastation that we saw with Haiyan.”

She said the UN has raised more than $300 million (about P13.4 billion) for the humanitarian effort this year that was expected to cost $788 million (P34.22 billion).

Tent shelter at SRP, Cebu City
CEBU. A child plays outside a tent in the South Road Properties in Cebu City, where survivors of Typhoon Yolanda have been taking shelter. (Allan Defensor)

Shelter, jobs

Priority would go to providing durable shelters and livelihoods, she added.

Abigail Valte, a spokeswoman for President Benigno Aquino III, acknowledged that disaster aid “can never be fast enough” for the areas devastated by the typhoon.

“We continue to assure everybody that the National Government agencies that are involved will continue to push for what needs to be done in the areas that have been hit,” she said in an interview on government radio.

In Cebu, a city and 15 towns in the north continue to recover, relying on private charity, public funds and humanitarian aid.

Governor Hilario Davide III signed last Friday a memorandum of understanding with Syed Shanawaz Ali, head of mission for Islamic Relief’s Yolanda Response Operation, to build 270 houses for two towns in Bantayan.

Vice Governor Agnes Magpale also signed the agreement, according to a press statement from the Provincial Information Office.

“In behalf of the province of Cebu, we thank your group for the assistance you’re giving us,” Davide said.

One year

“We really hope that our rehabilitation and reconstruction program will succeed. We hope to finish this in a year’s time. We know it’s a very challenging task but we are determined to give all the assistance that our constituents need in these affected 15 towns and one city,” Davide said.

Ali expressed appreciation for what he said was the clear direction of the province’s rehabilitation efforts. What happened, he added, may be seen as an opportunity to improve the tourism industry in Bantayan.

Islamic Relief’s initial commitment is 120 houses in Sta. Fe and 150 in Bantayan town. Each house is expected to cost P75,000 to P80,000. The Province will pay for the transportation of materials.

The construction work is expected to be finished in two and a half months. A demonstration house has been constructed.

Ali said the houses will be located in safe areas. Each roof will have four sides and will be tied down with typhoon straps so that it will not be easily carried by the wind.

Apart from the shelters, IRW also donated 1,636 tents, 3,000 tarpaulins, food for 20,000 families and shelter repair kits for 2,000 families as part of their emergency response after Yolanda.

UP presentation

They also have a livelihood program, which will include making souvenir items like shirts, starting in March.

Islamic Relief is identified with the Disasters Emergency Committee, the project donor of the Typhoon Haiyan Response and Early Recovery Program. It is a consortium of aid agencies in the United Kingdom, the Capitol also said.

Meanwhile, the University of the Philippines (UP) in Diliman’s School of Urban and Regional Planning has invited the Bogo City Government to present its Adopt a Barangay Project.

Bogo City Mayor Celestino Martinez Jr. joined the capability-building last week in Quezon City.

Also present during the seminar were Dean Mario delos Reyes; UP Planades headed by lawyer Primitivo Cal; John Ong, who represented rehabilitation head and former senator Panfilo Lacson; Rene Lorenzo of the Department of Interior and Local Government; and local and international non-government organizations such as the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc., Habitat for Humanity and the United States Agency for International Development.

UP Planades and the School of Urban and Regional Planning reportedly committed to help Bogo City in map out its Build Back Better Comprehensive Rehabilitation Plan. (Sun.Star Cebu/AFP/PR)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 16, 2014.

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