Yolanda survivors still waiting for shelter

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Wednesday, February 5, 2014


CEBU CITY -- More than 10,000 households in northern Cebu have received roofing materials from 21 non-government organizations in the nearly three months since Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) struck.

Based on a report provided by Marten Van Der Veen, Shelter Cluster information manager and a member of the International Red Cross in the Netherlands, at least 33,000 families also received tool kits.

Before the roofing materials were distributed, Van Der Veen also reported, a total of 54,693 households received emergency shelter, like tents.

But at least 17,000 families still need to be relocated.

After Yolanda struck the Visayas last November 8, the government said it would prohibit houses within 40 meters of shorelines. The storm killed more than 6,000 persons and injured 28,000 others. It also damaged or destroyed at least P36 billion worth of infrastructure, agricultural equipment and crops all over the Visayas.

In a separate interview, Representative Benhur Salimbangon (Cebu Province, fourth district), said he had to write former senator Panfilo Lacson to remind him that northern Cebu also needs to be included in the rehabilitation program of the national government.

He said he hoped Cebu would get a big share of the P34.6 billion the House of Representatives has allocated for the rehabilitation of areas damaged last November by Yolanda.

According to the Shelter Cluster Dashboard report, as of last January 19, a total of 103,000 households were listed in 16 local governments in northern Cebu as having been affected by the typhoon.

P4.1B in losses

These 15 towns and one city lost P4.1 billion worth of crops, infrastructure and livelihood opportunities.

The affected local governments are Bantayan, Sta. Fe, Madridejos, San Francisco, Pilar, Poro, Tudela, Tabuelan, Tuburan, San Remegio, Tabogon, Borbon, Sogod, Daanbantayan, Medellin and Bogo City.

The Provincial Government has said it needs at least P26.9 billion for its rehabilitation and reconstruction program.

During a meeting of Task Force Paglig-on on Tuesday, it was reported that the Province and international and local donors have constructed more than 1,000 houses.

Among the beneficiaries are families in the towns of Santa Fe (200 houses), Bogo (520 houses) and Daanbantayan (360 houses).

A housing project is also being implemented in Borbon.

There are 21 international and local non-government organizations (NGOs) that are coordinating with Task Force Paglig-on, the rehabilitation arm of the Province, to help typhoon survivors.

Based on the data presented during the task force’s meeting, there are still 4,500 families in Bantayan, 1,500 in Madridejos and 620 in San Remegio that need to be relocated.

In Sta. Fe, there are 2,300 families that need to be resettled, while 4,000 in Bogo City and another 4,000 in Daanbantayan need the same.

Emergency kits

Shelter Cluster Philippines said a total of 54,693 emergency shelter kits were released to various households.

Habitat for Humanity gave 1,486 roofing materials. Lutheran World Relief distributed 1,457 roofing materials, while Pakistan Red Cross Society-Swiss Red Cross and Swiss the Agency for Development and Cooperation gave 3,170 and 4,500 materials, respectively.

Ivan Vuarambon, head of Swiss Humanitarian Aid in the Visayas, said the Swiss Government allocated a total of $6 million for Typhoon Yolanda survivors in the Visayas.

Of the amount, some $2 million was reportedly appropriated for Cebu.

“We monitor our activities, we make sure that our donations go to the right people,” Vuarambon said.

Among the groups that have joined Shelter Cluster Philippines are Caritas Switzerland, Citizens’ Disaster Response Center, Habitat for Humanity, HelpAge-Coalition of Services of the Elderly, Islamic Relief Worldwide, Malteser International, PRCS-German Red Cross, PRCS-International Federation of Red Cross, Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. and Shelter Box.

Rafi, for example, has helped 2,420 households through a cash-for-work program.

Coordination

Other NGOs that have been helping Task Force Paglig-on are the Danish People’s Aid, Enfants du Mekong, International Organization for Migration, People in Need, Polish Humanitarian Action, World Vision and People’s Disaster Risk Reduction Network.

Capitol Consultant Baltazar Tribunalo Jr., task force head, said they will have another meeting on Friday with Cebu Governor Hilario Davide III and regional directors of national agencies.

May Ybañez, executive director of the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI), said the coordination between the local government unit (LGU) and the community was one of the reasons that delayed the rebuilding of homes.

CCCI is a support group and member of the task force.

Ybañez said that some of the LGUs are not communicating with the people on what are the options available if they move to a resettlement area, so they can be convinced to transfer.

Aside from that, she said it is also a challenge that LGUs are still identifying lots where families can be relocated.

“What is frustrating is that we cannot tap all the resources of the National Government,” Ybañez also said.

Congressman Salimbangon, who spoke in the 888 News Forum at Marco Polo Plaza on Tuesday, said that of the P34.6 billion set aside by the House, P14.6 billion came from what would have been the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). (The Supreme Court ruled late last year that the PDAF was unconstitutional.)

‘Not recovered’

The other P20 billion would have been this year’s PDAF, he said.

“We realigned and we passed a supplemental budget instead of the PDAF for the congressmen and senators, for the rehabilitation of the areas which are destroyed by typhoon Yolanda,” Salimbangon said.

He said he wrote Lacson to request an update on the status of the rehabilitation program.

“We have a big problem in the fourth district because of Typhoon Yolanda. The victims have not yet recovered and several families are still living in houses without roofing,” Salimbangon said.

Salimbangon said he has also requested the Cebu Ports Authority (CPA) to finish the roll on, roll off (Roro) port in Maya, Daanbantayan, Cebu.

He said that he wrote a letter to Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) Secretary Emilio Abaya because it seems the Cebu Provincial Government is hesitant to proceed with the project.

“I don’t know what the reason is but unfortunately, the portion of the project which is supposed to be undertaken by the Province has not been started yet,” Salimbangon said.

Agreements

The congressman said they have a tripartite agreement where the National Government will handle the highway leading to the port, the Province will take care of the port, and CPA will take charge of the berthing area.

“Since our discussion with Secretary Abaya that the CPA will take over the port, I would assume that by this time, we would have a better idea of what’s going to happen,” Salimbangon said.

Salimbangon also requested CPA to improve the ports of Hagnaya in San Remegio and Sta. Fe in Bantayan Island, which were also damaged by Yolanda.

CPA General Manager Edmund Tan and CPA Commissioner Tomas Riveral said they will inspect all the ports mentioned by Salimbangon this Monday so they will know how to treat the congressman’s concerns.

At the Capitol, Provincial Information Officer Ethel Natera said that the national rehabilitation group headed by former senator Lacson sent a team to the province three weeks ago.

Natera said the team has been visiting the areas affected in northern Cebu and noted the needs of the families. (FMG/EOB/With OCP/Sun.Star Cebu)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 05, 2014.

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