Editorial: Two months later

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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

THERE is more reason for hope now than there existed in the days immediately after Yolanda/Haiyan, which blew across the Visayas exactly two months ago. There is more order in the streets and supply chains, even in the worst-off areas like Tacloban City, and rebuilding has started in many communities.

Even the allegations of overpricing in the construction of bunkhouses, as reported by the Inquirer, are a necessary reminder. Far better for the allegations to have surfaced this early, before the bulk of the reconstruction funds have been released.

One hopes these will serve notice to the public works department and the concerned local governments, that the public will tolerate no misuse of the funds meant to help get survivors back on their feet.


Our hope, however, wavers now and then. Two months down the road, both local and central governments still need to coordinate the various well-meaning, but scattershot responses in Yolanda’s wake. And if they have, they need to communicate better—what’s been accomplished where, what still needs to be done--with all constituents, whose support they will need as the recovery effort proceeds.

Without clearer signals from government officials in charge of the recovery, valuable resources marshaled by the private sector will continue to reach mostly the well-connected communities—not necessarily those that need help most.

Consider some findings from ShelterCluster.org, which is co-chaired by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. From Nov. 28 to Dec. 12, teams assembled by different international aid agencies assessed 7,023 households in 16 towns spread across Yolanda’s path.

They observed that shelter assistance was concentrated on coastal areas (about 82 percent), although inland communities badly needed help, too. “Of those households that are not able to complete repairs or reconstruction without any support, 91 percent have not been assisted,” the organization reported in December.

Thousands of households have salvaged whatever survived Yolanda’s wrath—old wood, dented sheets of galvanized iron or tin—in order to start rebuilding. Yet 90 percent, by ShelterCluster.org’s reckoning, still “live on the same plot or in the same shelter.” Where, it is likely, they remain as vulnerable as they were before Yolanda struck.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 08, 2014.


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