Rotten food, joblessness, and other issues 6 months #afterYolanda
MANILA, Philippines – In an online conversation facilitated by Rappler on Thursday, May 8, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and some of the local and international non-governmental organization (NGOs) discussed the state of recovery in Yolanda-affected areas.
Six months after Yolanda, a lot of work is yet to be done to build back better, a common sentiment raised by many netizens.
Netizens discussed with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and some humanitarian organizations issues on food, health, shelter, and civil records.
The conversation also tackled DSWD's long-term plans as well as the public criticism on ongoing recovery efforts. (READ: Her name was Yolanda)
Food and health
Most netizens asked about the health and nutrition status of Yolanda survivors.
DSWD Assistant Secretary Vilma Cabrera said the food pack is given once every two weeks and covers a family of 5.
Meanwhile, some netizens questioned DSWD about undistributed relief goods.
Netizens also asked whether DSWD is providing support for survivors experiencing trauma and other emotional or mental health concerns.
In addition, the DSWD stressed that its flagship poverty alleviation program Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) has already benefitted 353,323 Yolanda-affected households as of March. It aims to cover 20,000 more families.
Meanwhile, there are over 250,000 pregnant women in Yolanda-affected areas with around 1,000 childbirths taking place every day, according to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
There are also about 169,000 breastfeeding women in affected areas.
Around 150 women are potentially burdened with life-threatening complications, UNFPA said. (READ: Pregnant during Yolanda)
To address the issue, DSWD set up Women-Friendly Spaces (WFS) in Leyte and Eastern Samar which catered to 2,328 women as of April.
WFS provides skills training, psychosocial first aid, reproductive health medical missions for pregnant and lactating women, food, hygiene kits, and underwear.
World Vision, among other NGOs, is also implementing Women and Young Children’s Space (WAYCS) where mothers are taught about the importance of breastfeeding, especially during times of disaster. (READ: PH Milk Code)
As of February, only 65 children were reported to be orphaned through the Department's Rapid Family Tracing and Reunificaiton System (RFTS). However, the number may actually be bigger once a final assessment is done.
The RFTS, conducted by DSWD and Unicef, connected orphaned children with qualified foster families.
The orphaned children are currently under the care of regional DSWD centers, according to Cabrera.
Yolanda destroyed 25,000 daycare centers and 17,500 schools. The Department of Education (DepEd) encourages the private sector to help rebuild schools.
Over a million women and children were affected by Yolanda.
Meanwhile, almost 6 million people lost their livelihoods to typhoon. To make up for the loss, DSWD introduced Cash-for-Work programs.
Individuals are given work for up to 15 days, in which they receive around P260/day, depending on the mininum wage set by the region.
The work involves repacking of relief goods, food preparation, inventory of damaged property, clearing of debris, coastal and road clean-ups, canal dredging, and communal gardening.
After 15 days, DSWD helps them seek employment through the agency's partners in the private sector, according to Cabrera.
However, some netizens questioned whether the cash-for-work assistance is enough and sustainable.
DSWD explained that it has now transitioned into "Cash-for-Assets" which aims to rebuild livelihood assets and income-generating projects. Beneficiaries are hired in restoring farm-to-market roads and agricultural projects.
The Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) provides skills training and start-up capital of up to P20,000 to target beneficiaries who wish to start their own business. Other packages include farming workshops, distribution of cellphones, pedicabs, and non-motorized boats, and start-ups for load retailing businesses.
SLP interventions in Yolanda-affected areas began in November 2013 and will end in December 2014, DSWD said.
Initiatives for Dialogue and Empowerment through Alternative Legal Services, Inc.(IDEALS), a non-governmental organization (NGO), launched the Mobile Civil Registration Project on April 2014.
The project provides legal assistance to Yolanda survivors who want to file their claims and benefits.
“It will be difficult to file claims such as those from SSS and PAG-IBIG without proper identification documents. We assist them legally to reconstruct legal documents,” Glenn Ymata, IDEALS Project Manager, said.
“This also came about as a result from an online petition [change.org] and concerns raised by the media. Bikitima na nga sila, pinapahirapan pa sila kumuha [ng civil records],” Ymata added.
IDEALS, in partnership with local government units (LGUs), DSWD, and UNHCR, helps survivors acquire authenticated copies of their civil records from the National Statistics Office. This includes birth, marriage, and death certificates.
IDEALS also provides legal assistance to those who want to reconstruct their lost or damaged records. The project targets 100,000 individuals.
As of May, 44,000 individuals have been endorsed for registration; while 3,000 have already finished the process. As of now, the project covers 20 municipalities in Ormoc, Tacloban, Balangiga, and Samar.
IDEALS plans to expand support to include passports, business permits, and court records.
As of May, 3,455 families have been transferred to 20 bunkhouses in Region VI and 245 bunkhouses in Region VIII.
DSWD reported that Tacloban City has identified a 10-hectare lot in San Isidro which can be used as a transitional site, and later on, a permanent relocation site accomodating up to 1,000 families.
The International Organization of Migration (IOM) revealed that only 8% of evacuation centers among the 10 hard-hit municipalities of Eastern Samar are still usable in case a new typhoon strikes. (READ: PH has few reliable evacuation centers)
Meanwhile, Oxfam, an international development organization, stressed the need to consult the survivors before relocating them; highligting the importance of livelihood security.
World Vision argued that it is not enough to just build shelters, there must be an assurance that these shelters are "disaster-safe." (READ: Typhoon resistant houses)
Meanwhile, Oxfam shared its assessment over the Philippine government's Yolanda response.
Gov't rehab plan must be based on consultations & needs, otherwise it will be 'build back worse' & not 'build back better'. #AfterYolanda— Oxfam sa Pilipinas (@oxfamph) May 8, 2014
Oxfam also emphasized the need to provide more support for farmers and fisherfolk, adding that "fishing boats have been replaced, but there's nothing to catch."
— World Vision Phils. (@WorldVisionPH) May 8, 2014