Thousands of Yolanda survivors won’t have permanent homes until 2016
If the pace of construction of permanent houses for survivors of Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) does not pick up, thousands of families will still be living in temporary shelters when President Benigno Aquino 3rd steps down in 2016.
This is because as of November 5, only 1,252 of the 205,128 housing units the government plans to build for the typhoon victims have been completed.
The government target for this year is 8,629 houses. It expects to finish 7,377 houses by March 2015.
For next year, the target is 85,128 housing units, and another 85,128 houses in 2016.
A year after the killer typhoon struck Eastern Visayas, thousands of survivors are still living in tents or in their damaged houses.
The shortage of shelter is palpable in Tacloban City where thousands of survivors are crammed in tent communities.
The city government said less than 200 permanent houses have been built and half of that number was constructed by non-government organizations.
Tacloban Mayor Alfred Romualdez said they need 14,500 permanent shelters for Yolanda victims.
The slow construction of permanent shelters prompted Romualdez to urge government to study a mechanism to better address disaster-related issues.
“I think it is important to come up with a mechanism to address these issues because we are hit by strong typhoons every year,” he said.
“There was Sendong, Pablo, and others. If we say recovery should be fast, it should be really fast. We should have learned our lessons from past disasters,” he said.
“I am just saying we have to ask ourselves do we really have the right mechanisms and system in place to address issues like these? If we don’t, we should make systems and mechanisms para mapabilis ang mga ito to speed things up),” the mayor said.
Romualdez also pointed out that the government should not “divert” the definition of the “build back better” program.
He explained that “build back better” should mean “building their [victims]lives back better not building infrastructure better.”
“Based on the feedback that we are getting, the people are saying that they should be the priority because they need help, their lives were ruined,” Romualdez said.
“They feel that if the focus then was humanitarian response by giving food, the response should be the same in giving shelter, it should be among the priorities. But apparently they feel giving shelter is [the]lesser priority,” he added.
In addition to the construction of 1,252 housing units, the national government reported that it finished construction of 26 kilometers of national roads, 57.69 km of farm-to-market roads, 158.5 km bridges, 2 flood control structures, 101 new classrooms, renovated 833 classrooms, 28 airports, 29 public markets, 3 health facilities in government hospitals and 25 health facilities in regional health units.
The Department of Education said more than 17,000 damaged classrooms have been repaired. As of November 4, more than half of the targeted 2,313 classrooms are ongoing construction.
Zero tents by yearend
Social Welfare Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman said the government is doing its best so that by December 30, families living in tent cities will have been transferred to better homes.
“The task of rebuilding is indeed a challenge but with the private sector, our partner non-government and international humanitarian organizations, and the survivors themselves working together, we have no doubt that the areas devastated by ‘Yolanda’ will rise again,” Soliman said.
As of last June, there were 3,219 families staying in tents and makeshift houses in Leyte and Samar.
Last week, Soliman visited Barangays 88, 89, and 90 in Tacloban to check on the condition of families staying in tents. She also consulted the barangay chairmen to discuss the residents’ transfer to transitional shelters.
The DSWD, in partnership with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), has been relocating hundreds of families to transition sites.