Post-Yolanda, NGOs make things happen in north Iloilo
ILOILO City – A destitute wasteland, followed by days of hunger and thirst and then desperation and anger from survivors.
That was what the towns of northern Iloilo (Ajuy, Barotac Viejo, Lemery, Balasan, Batad, Carles, Concepcion, Estancia, Sara and San Dionisio) were like at the height of super typhoon Yolanda.
One can then only imagine the elation they typhoon survivors felt when help arrived and it was only later that they realized they were thanking mostly local and international non-government organizations (NGOs) who stayed with them from day one up till now, a year after the horrific typhoon ruined their lives.
No less than Iloilo Provincial Administrator Raul Banias recognizes the tremendous effort in disaster reduction and ongoing rehabilitation the NGOs have contributed to northern Iloilo.
With the locals’ livelihood of fishing compromised because more than 9,000 estimated fishing boats were destroyed, the pouring of aid came from a local NGO called One Meal Foundation headed by Ilongga businesswoman and civic leader Teresa “Nene” Chan.
By estimate, Banias said around P50-million worth of fishing boats were directly donated to the beneficiaries in northen Iloilo wherein largely about P40 million came from Chan’s One Meal Foundation.
“As far as the number of marginal fisherfolk whose livelihood were affected by Yolanda, we are almost done (with helping them). In fact, when I talked to the mayors, they can hardly identify the beneficiaries because both the government through ‘Adopt a Fishermen Program’ and other partners worked together a few weeks after Yolanda. The effort to provide livelihood to these marginal fishermen has been continuous and relentless,” said Banias, a former mayor of Concepcion town that was one of the hardest hit by Yolanda.
On the other hand, private and international donors are very active in assisting with the means to access clean and potable water in the Yolanda-ravaged towns where most clean water sources were polluted by saltwater from the sea.
Banias cited for instance that in Concepcion town, it is Concern Worldwide, an NGO from Ireland, which is repairing the water systems of the island barangays in Concepcion while other municipalities have other partners assisting them with accessibility to water.
For instance, international NGO Waves For Water in partnership with a local group called Ambag, has installed 500 clean water filtration systems in the Iloilo towns of Balasan, Estancia, Concepcion, Barotac Viejo, and San Dionisio and selected towns in the province of Capiz.
Several schools are designed to be typhoon-resilient by foreign partners such as Concern Worldwide, Korean Red Cross, and Save the Children.
On the other hand, Banias said Iloilo province will allot P12 million for the purchase of fishing gears to be taken from the funds of Adopt A Fisherman Program and from the province’s calamity funds.
Banias disclosed that the province has received around P12 million monetary donations overseas for its Adopt A Fisherman Program wherein half was used to build or purchase fishing boats.
On the other hand, Banias added that the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in coordination with the Department of Agriculture is already releasing farm implements to the farmers affected by typhoon Yolanda.
As to for shelter, rehabilitation is under the auspices of the National Housing Authority and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) with NHA is now directly dealing with municipalities and trying to acquire the appropriate relocation sites for the resettlement of those living in hazardous and vulnerable areas. – Rappler.com
(The writer and photographer are volunteers for the Typhoon Yolanda Story Hub Visayas, a citizen journalism portal created on November 13, 2013, by veteran journalists, student writers, mobile journalists, and photographers based in Iloilo City. The Hub delivers reports from across the Panay Island, especially the severely damaged and minimally covered northern Iloilo and the provinces of Antique, Capiz, and Aklan.)