Disaster-resilient evacuation center rises in Guiuan, E. Samar
GUIUAN, Eastern Samar - As the threat of stronger typhoons looms, UNICEF and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) joined the local government of Guiuan in Eastern Samar on April 19 in inaugurating a disaster-resilient evacuation center.
On November 8, 2013, Super Typhoon Yolanda (international name Haiyan) made its first landfall in Guiuan. The town was severely affected after absorbing the full impact of the typhoon.
But Guiuan is now stepping up its disaster risk reduction efforts to strengthen the town's resilience.
“Opening the evacuation center in Guiuan is a testament to a new start and a better prepared communities. This disaster-resilient evacuation center symbolizes the resilience of Guiuananons, who have been making great progress in rebuilding their community," said IOM Philippines Chief of Mission Marco Boasso.
The pilot community evacuation center is the first in a network of evacuation centers in Eastern Samar that are being established through a partnership between UNICEF and IOM. The project is funded by Fuji TV, a Japanese television station.
The multi-purpose evacuation center will provide safe shelter for up to 350 people if a disaster hits. It will also serve as a space for community gatherings and youth activities.
The building, which is able to withstand category 5 winds and magnitude 8 earthquakes, combines international best practices in disaster-resilient design for mass evacuation centers with local construction technologies and locally available materials. This will allow the structure to be replicated at other sites across the Philippines.
It also includes a playground that can be used as a child-friendly space in times of emergencies and two colorful murals designed by children and artists of Guiuan.
UNICEF continues to work with local governments such as Guiuan to ensure that children who are the most vulnerable are protected in times of emergencies, according to UNICEF Philippines Representative Lotta Sylwander.
“After 9 months, the enthusiasm and professionalism of the entire project team and the unfailing support of our partners paid off," Sywander said.
The building, called the Sirungan ha Guiuan (Shelter of Guiuan),was designed with ample lighting to minimize bullying and gender-based violence in crowded emergency situations, as well as ramps and handrails for people with disabilities and the elderly.
The design maximizes natural light and ventilation and allows space for the registration and information sharing needed during mass evacuations. It also has storage space for supplies, generators and fuel.
Most importantly for UNICEF and IOM, a dedicated evacuation center is a better alternative to the common practice of using schools as evacuation centers during emergencies, which can disrupt schooling for large numbers of children for extended periods. - Rappler.com