Yolanda survivors need additional support

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Sunday, May 11, 2014


MORE than two million Filipinos still live without adequate or durable shelter six months after super typhoon Yolanda destroyed or damaged their homes.

In its latest situation report, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Ocha) said most survivors have started rebuilding their homes.

“But they need support to complete construction and (be) ensured they have access to basic services like water and sanitation, as well as education and livelihoods,” it said.

With the rainy and typhoon season approaching in June, it said the shelter shortage must be addressed.

Search for usable land

“As people are exposed to the elements in many areas, the risk of the situation translating into deteriorating public health or a new humanitarian crisis is heightened,” Ocha said.

Yolanda devastated parts of the Visayas and affected 14 million people when it made landfall last November 8.

Malacañang and its Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) partners have embarked on a search for more usable land, particularly in Tacloban City and the heavily-affected municipalities in Leyte Province.

Municipal land-search committees are being established for such a purpose.

Shelter cluster partners have provided 120,000 households with assistance, enabling survivors to repair their own homes, but support for an additional 370,000 households is still required.

Pressing issue

According to the government and the Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM), over 5,000 people still live in evacuation centers and tent cities, mostly in Eastern Visayas.

Some reside in government-built bunkhouses, which serve as transitional shelter for nearly 20,000 people.

No further bunkhouses are being constructed, but other kinds of transitional sites are in use or under development to shelter people still in tents and evacuation centers.

Ocha considers the government’s proposed blanket policy in implementing a “No Dwelling Zone” (NDZ) within 40 meters of the shoreline as part of disaster risk reduction as one of the most pressing issues for Yolanda-affected communities.

Humanitarian partners are concerned about the temporary nature of assistance to people in the NDZs, especially regarding ad hoc shelter support in preparation for the upcoming typhoon season.

In March, the government clarified that “Safe Zones” and “Unsafe Zones” will be identified through risk-mapping of all the areas in question.

Once the zones are surveyed and categorized, ordinances will be issued on how the land can be used.

Though millions still require urgent attention, Ocha said the humanitarian situation has remained stable across the affected regions.

It attributed this largely to the resilience of the people and the massive response during the emergency phase. (GMD)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 11, 2014.

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