• Permanent homes eyed for 200K Yolanda families

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    The government has identified 214,367 permanent housing units for communities devastated by Super Typhoon Yolanda, according to Vice President Jejomar Binay.

    During the welcome dinner for participants to the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Manila Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction Management (DRRM) on Wednesday, Binay said a total of 120,000 housing units are targeted to start construction this year, while the rest (94,367 units) will be constructed in 2015.

    He added that a fire at a temporary shelter in Tacloban City, Leyte, last week shows the urgency of providing permanent shelter to the typhoon survivors.

    Leyte is seen as the hardest hit by Yolanda in November last year.

    “The tragic loss of life in last week’s fire at a temporary shelter in Tacloban City is most unfortunate and adds unjustly to the grief that haunts the survivors,” the Vice President said.

    “The government has provided immediate assistance to the relatives of the departed, but beyond interventions such as fire safety improvements in the camps, the ultimate solution lies in permanent, disaster-resilient housing,” he added.

    Binay lauded the role of multi-sector partnerships in the goal of providing disaster-resilient housing, saying in Tacloban and Tanauan and Ormoc City, both also in Leyte, 6,670 families have benefited from such partnership.

    “This blessed beginning has fueled more vehicles of cooperation, with the government identifying land for acquisition for the rollout of more housing units and the private sector stepping in for development. We continue to nurture these partnerships and provide the fullest support we can so that more of these can take off at the soonest possible time,” he said.

    “The multi-sectoral response to calamity has shown compelling results, and reveals that while we do not have all the solutions to all possible problems, an integrated and united front provides more than what is possible if each sector moved alone. It also opens the doors for that front to expand across geographical and political borders, and paves the avenues for our friends and allies to expediently deliver assistance of all forms,” the Vice President added.

    Binay related his experience as mayor of Makati City years ago in responding to disasters.

    “As Makati built its own DRRM system, we benefited greatly from close cooperation with the national government and other stakeholders such as the private sector, NGOs [non-government organizations] and civil society, and the city government continues to expand and strengthen its mechanisms and policies to meet shifts in disaster risks,” he said.

    Binay pointed out the need to refine the responses from both the local and national levels during disasters.

    “As Yolanda has shown, we have to further refine our responses from both levels and create mechanisms that allow each level’s strengths to complement each other, rather than diminish each other,” he said.

    The Vice President added that solutions that will be formulated during the conference should be felt by citizens.

    “In more specific terms, our resolutions must ultimately be implementable by the local executives on the ground within a prudent time frame, for these to be considered tangible,” he said.

    Binay pushed the idea of soliciting the help of overseas Filipino workers in crafting better disaster-response mechanisms.

    “Many of them now possess skills that will be indispensable in implementing innovative responses and solutions at ground level. Working in concert with their LGUs [local government units]at home even on a temporary or advisory level, this unleashes rich and locally attuned resources that we can bring to bear on the climate change and DRRM issues,” he said.

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