THE Roman Catholic Church has said that its P3.2-billion Typhoon Yolanda rehabilitation program in central Philippines was a “success.”
Fr. Edwin A. Gariguez, executive secretary of the National Secretariat for Social Action (Nassa)/Caritas Philippines, said that out of the P3.2-billion fund, they have constructed a total of 33,253 houses for the victims of the November 2013 typhoon in nine provinces.
The three-year recovery and rehabilitation program of the Catholic Church that officially started in 2014 has reached 1.4 million people, Gariguez said on Sunday, November 18.
The construction of 33,253 housing units was implemented directly by Nassa/Caritas Philippines, and bilaterally by Caritas Internationalis member organizations, namely, Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Caritas Switzerland, Caritas Italiana, Caritas Belgium, Caritas Germany, Development and Peace-Caritas Canada, Caritas Austria, and Catholic Organization for Relief and Development Aid (Cordaid).
The number of shelters constructed per Caritas members includes Nassa/Caritas Philippines (7,373), CRS (20,000), Development and Peace (1,550), Caritas Switzerland (1,080), Caritas Austria (2,000), Caritas Germany (250), Caritas Belgium (300), Caritas Italiana (500), and Cordaid (200).
Jing Rey Henderson, Nassa's communications and partnership development manager, said the Caritas response benefitted the typhoon victims in Leyte, Samar, Eastern Samar, Palawan, Cebu, Iloilo, Aklan, Capiz, Antique and other areas hit by Yolanda.
The Church’s aid covers mainly on shelter, livelihoods, water, sanitation and health (Wash), community organizing, community-managed disaster risk reduction (CMDRR), ecosystems recovery, and institutional capacity building.
Henderson said that under the shelter assistance of the Caritas Philippines, 2,653 local artisans were trained, 16,354 individuals were trained on safe building awareness, and 147 home owners associations were formed.
On Wash, 161,837 individuals were able to take part in hygiene promotion activities, 6,693 households were given access to water supply facilities, 7,764 households with sanitation facilities, and 47 Bawasas were accredited and registered.
On livelihood, 24,416 individuals were given various livelihood support and training, 120 self-help groups were formed, 262 community-based livelihood groups were created, 43 market links, outlets and demo farms were established, and 30 trade fairs and bazaars were conducted.
The Church also trained the beneficiaries on how to take care of the ecosystem.
“Caritas Internationalis confederation was really instrumental in ensuring not only that we have funds, but that we are accompanied by experts in the field of livelihoods, community organizing, CMDRR, institutional capacity building, and especially in the shelter sector. That is why we were able to accomplish so many things,” said Gariguez.
Gariguez said that being able to build more than 30,000 shelter units speak of the dedication and commitment of the Catholic Church to better the lives and restore the dignity of the most vulnerable communities and families affected by Typhoon Yolanda.
“We are very proud of this accomplishment, yet humbled by the experience,” he said.
On November 16 and 17, the Catholic Church, through Nassa/Caritas Philippines, hosted the fifth Typhoon Yolanda anniversary commemoration in Palo, Leyte.
During the two-day event, the Catholic Church celebrated the best of humanitarian innovations in the country following the experiences and competencies gained during Yolanda recovery and rehabilitation program.
These Catholic Church-led innovations include community-based livelihoods and sustainable agriculture, community-led rehabilitation initiatives through the Pope Francis Village, the institutionalization of convergence between the communities and the government, and the localization of international partnerships.
Other best practices of the Catholic Church’s Yolanda response include resource mobilization, strengthening collaborations among faith-based organizations, peace building and volunteer mobilization in conflict situations, digitized conditional cash transfer programming, the establishment of the Center for Resiliency, Empowerment and Integral Development (Creed), the first social action academy in the country, and the ongoing digitization of the results of the Participatory Disaster Risk Assessment (PDRA) mapping known as “Digital PH,” which was named one of the three best humanitarian innovations in the world in 2017 by the Humanitarian Innovation Fund.
Nassa/Caritas Philippines, the humanitarian, development and advocacy arm of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines, serves the 85 diocesan social action centers across the country while representing the Philippines to the Caritas Internationalis, the global confederation of Catholic charities. (SunStar Philippines)