UN, humanitarian groups help 344,000 homeless in Bohol
MANILA, Philippines - The United Nations launched on October 25, a US$46.8 million (P2.01-billion) plan that seeks to help address the needs of the Bohol earthquake victims.
Nearly 344,000 of them were displaced by the destructive 7.2-magnitude earthquake that struck Bohol on October 15.
Luiza Carvalho, the Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in the Philippines, said on Friday, October 25, the funds would support the following ongoing early recovery and rehabilitation efforts of the government:
- Emergency shelter
- Sanitation and hygiene
- Debris removal and coordination
- Other life-saving activities
“Humanitarian actors currently responding to several calamities are stretched to full capacity and we need support to provide an effective, needs-based intervention to complement the government’s timely and hands-on response,” Carvalho said.
Urgent need: Temporary shelter
A few days after the earthquake, Carvalho led a humanitarian team that assessed the situation and needs of the affected areas in Bohol.
To date, at least 52,868 houses — 12,239 (totally damaged) and 40,629 houses (partially damaged) — were reported to have been destroyed across Bohol.
“People urgently require temporary and transitional shelter, to protect them from the elements” Carvalho said, expressing concern about the condition of affected women and children.
Lonita Gallado, a mother of 6, and her husband set up a makeshift shelter made of salvaged materials from a destroyed neighbor's house in the town of Sagbayan, the epicenter of the earthquake.
Lonita said tents and relief goods had not reached her village when we talked to her 5 days after the tragedy.
"Mahirap. Marami kasi. Wala kami sa bahay kasi malapit nang, ano, nasira na ang bahay namin. Sa may ganyan, balong-balong (kami nakatira)," she told Rappler.
(It's really hard. We can't get relief goods and a tent because there are a lot of people. We are not at home because our house has been destroyed. We just stay in a makeshift shelter.)
No means to repair house
Affected people in Bohol sought temporary shelter in tents outside their damaged houses, in rice fields, and in cramped evacuation centers.
50-year-old Antonio Lacien, a resident of the worst hit town of Loon, lost his mother and his house to the earthquake. The wake was held in the tent beside the house where he now lives with his wife and his father.
"Si Mama nagalingkod sa guwa nya ni kalit la'g linog ba natagakan siya sa hollow block sa balay nya na-bali iyang likod ug nabali iyang tiil. Lisod gyud. Kay pait ang mga tao pag bag-o linog. Tanan tao man nu-on ang naapektahan atong higayon. Naguba ang mga ba'y ba," Lacien told Rappler.
(Mama was sitting outside when the earthquake suddenly struck. A hollow block fell on her, breaking her back and leg. It is difficult. People have been struggling since the earthquake. Everyone was affected. Houses were destroyed.)
When we interviewed him a few days after the earthquake, Lacien said he would look for means to repair his destroyed house once he has buried his mother.
"I'll find a way to solve this, to recover from what happened. My house was destroyed. I will strive to find the means to repair it because it's ruined," Lacien said in Visayan.
Back to zero
Carvalho, together with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) earlier presented to the Bohol Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council a temporary shelter plan that fits the needs of displaced people in various situations, including those who stay in their own lots like Lacien.
The situation in at least 81 evacuation centers and 22 "community-based evacuation sites" — small number of families huddled together, usually along roads — is tougher. Many end up getting wet when heavy rain falls. There are no toilets in many evacuation sites. Some get sick without getting medical assistance.
In the town of Tubigon, 68-year-old Rodulfo Requillo sought refuge in an evacuation center in front of a government building with his relatives. They don't fit in their small makeshift shelter. Some of them sleep in an unused jeep.
"We couldn't return to our house. It's totally destroyed — back to zero — even if it was made of concrete," Requillo told Rappler.
On Thursday, October 24, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) provided 153 rolls of laminated plastic tents for affected families in at least 19 towns including Tubigon.
The IOM is setting up at least 900 shelter box tents and is distributing solar lamps across Bohol to augment government efforts, IOM emergency position and response coordinator Conrad Navidad told Rappler.
The IOM said the temporary shelter plan seeks to promote decent and dignified living conditions in evacuation centers in the province.
"The requirement for setting up a camp or an evacuation center based on humanitarian standards is to put in all facilities such as segregated toilets for men and women, bathing cubicles, water supply, wash area, even kitchen counters," Navidad said.
The camps, also provide space where children can play. The evacuees will also be involved in managing their own camps.
"They are not there only to be provided with services, but they are part of a collectivity that is managing the center for all the people that are involved," Carvalho stressed.
Sense of normalcy
Carvalho explained that the proposed evacuation set-up for affected people ensures "that they are very close to their original communities, that they don’t disrupt their children’s school, that the management of their daily chores are taken to a level that gives them some sense of normalcy."
But the camps will be operational for only a month.
"That is only the initial phase because beyond that, there has to be a temporary but a little bit more sturdy type of housing facilities that they should have," Bohol Gov Edgar Chatto told Rappler.
The local government is yet to present a long-term plan for recovery and rehabilitation.
For earthquake survivors we spoke to, the rubble that surrounds them will be a constant reminder of what they lost until they begin seeing the rise of their new homes where they can rebuild their shattered lives. – Rappler.com