How Red Cross managed to build 66k houses 2 years after Yolanda
MANILA, Philippines — Nearly two years after Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) left thousands homeless in parts of the Visayas, the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) announced that more than 66,000 houses have been built in several provinces struck my the destructive storm.
The figure is around 86% of the 80,203 target for 2015.
Senatorial aspirant and PRC chairman Richard Gordon said that the PRC accomplished this because of flexibility and a sense of urgency. “We cannot wait for people to have everything; we shall start,” he said.
The houses were built in Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Cebu, Eastern Samar, Iloilo, Leyte, Palawan, and Western Samar. The families were also given livelihood assistance.
According to PRC, around 59,000 families were given conditional cash grants, amounting to P592.18 million ($12.62 million). Gordon also said the PRC gave training seminars through the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority. (READ: Where are we after Yolanda?)
Aside from livelihood, the PRC also focused on health, sanitation, and education. Thirty-two schools were given improved access to water and sanitation facilities, while 38 health facilities and 410 classrooms were repaired and reconstructed.
Gordon also shared with the media that the PRC will buy a ship to improve rescue efforts. He said a downpayment has been made, and that the PRC wants to equip the ship to bring relief faster to any part of the Philippines.
He emphasized that more than recovery, values should be renewed. “Without values, we don’t have the courage to stand up and go against the challenges of life,” he said. (READ: Groups fear Yolanda victims will slide back to being exploited)
A lot has been done but there are still challenges to recovery. Gordon said the most difficult challenge is shelter.
“Governments are not prone to giving land, and here, it is no exception,” he said.
The PRC chief also acknowledged that there are not enough resources to build houses. (READ: PH's Yolanda rebuilding 'inadequate' – UN)
To date, some 205,000 families are still living in high-risk zones. Gordon explained that these families still stay in the disaster area as their livelihoods are there.
“What we need to do is to get the people out there and bring them to safer grounds. We have to do a good job there,” he said.
He suggested looking at alternative approaches: “Why would I give an amount of money when we can give them tractors to clean up what has been sedimented by the mud? This is something we are looking at.”
He also said there is a need to identify evacuation centers and not use schools during emergency situations. The government should bring more infrastructure to the provinces, he added.
Partnership with government
Responding to questions, Gordon acknowledged the importance of maintaining good relations with the government, as a partner in relief operations.
“I want to be in the good side of the government. They are our partners. We are auxilliaries,” he said. (READ: SONA 2015: Aquino admits need to do more after Yolanda)
Gordon recounted operations during Typhoon Lando (International Name: Koppu). He said that thanks to the government, the PRC was able to anticipate flooding due to the Pampanga River Basin. “Without the government, I would not know the challenge here,” Gordon added.
He added that the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) asked the PRC to aid in rescue operations in Cabanatuan.
Gordon also praised NDRRMC Executive Director Undersecretary Alexander Pama for "doing a good job" during Typhoon Lando operations.
Gordon emphasized that coordination is key to fast response and recovery. He also said that the people should have a forward-looking attitude during disasters. (READ: In Sendai, Philippines shows lessons from Yolanda)– Rappler.com
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