Editorial: A light to rebuild by

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Wednesday, December 4, 2013


BY government’s estimate, it will take three to five years to rebuild homes, schools and other infrastructure that gave way when Yolanda walloped the Visayas nearly a month ago.

But make no mistake, the rebuilding process has started, which is both good and bad. Good, because the sooner families and neighborhoods get back on their feet, the faster local economies can heal.

Yet rushing headlong to rebuild can also prove bad if it increases the chance of old risks getting revived. Rebuilding the same vulnerable structures, in the same defenseless locations, will mean that the chance to absorb life-saving lessons after Yolanda would have passed.

How informed are the decisions being made by families that have started to rebuild?

Who is guiding them and what advice is being given? What plans are being made to make schools, health centers, town halls and other public buildings more secure, especially because these often serve as shelters during calamities?

Government, we know, finds itself stretched to its limits as it responds to the ruin in that unprecedented typhoon’s wake. But it cannot afford to wallow in damage control. It has more urgent challenges at hand, among them providing clearer directions, so that communities can use resources wisely as they rebuild.

What we are seeing is another rush, mostly by private sector and non-profit groups, to provide G.I. sheets and other construction supplies to needy communities. No doubt their intentions and efforts are well-meaning. Already, various proposed designs have been floated on social media, where these have found pockets of support, both figuratively and literally.

What government now needs is to provide more specific guidance on ways to avoid rebuilding risks. It has various strategies at its disposal, including minimum setbacks from coasts or riverbanks, enforcement of stricter standards on building and the quality of materials, and the adoption of other hazard-reducing practices.

In the dark wastelands that Yolanda has made of many neighborhoods, what we need—and we needed it yesterday—is a guiding light. This is essential, if we are to move forward as safer, more resilient communities.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 04, 2013.

Opinion

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