Are resettlement projects in Yolanda-affected areas on track?

The National Housing Authority (NHA) recently reported that a total of 12,635 housing units are ready for occupancy and 8,820 more to be completed before the end of 2015.

To better respond to the housing needs of the calamity victims, particularly those affected by Typhoon Yolanda, NHA, with the help of Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), has developed standard disaster-resilient housing designed to withstand typhoon winds of 250kph, Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) chair Chito M. Cruz said on the agency’s official website.
In Kawayan Ville 1, Barangay New Kawayan, Tacloban City, the Habitat for Humanity Philippines (HHP)
 is currently building some 793 permanent shelters.
The Government’s Resettlement Cluster is being led by the HUDCC with NHA as its implementing arm and tasked to build permanent housing communities for the 205,128 families affected by the storm.

With funding requirement to the tune of P61.252 billion, the resettlement project which is under the implementation of NHA, is accordingly in line with the ‘build back better’ principle in response of the aftermath of Super Typhoon Yolanda in 14 provinces and 6 regions. Eastern Visayas is the most severely affected region.

Some Yolanda-affected families in Tacloban City opted to rebuild their shelters at their old places considered as vulnerable areas and are not included among the priority of beneficiaries of the resettlement projects by the Government. 
According to the report, as of October 20, 2015, the total fund released for the resettlement site project is P26.996 billion to fund 92,544 housing units. About 17,641 units have been completed.

The NHA indicated that these housing projects are complete with community facilities, water and power lines. A space is likewise allocated for school buildings, tricycle terminals, police outpost, material recovery facility (MRF), health center and a multi-purpose center. Housing units will have individual septic tanks/vault, and has a minimum lot size of 40 square meters, while the row house will measure 22 square meters to follow the resilient housing design.

However, there are certain individuals who expressing their skepticism to avail this housing units despite of its being “better” appearance to compare of their previous situations before the typhoon. “I survived during Yolanda, but this time I am not really sure of the qualities in constructing this housing units,” one of the suppose beneficiaries in Balangkayan town lamented.

In partnership with the Gawad Kalinga (GK), NHA provided 822 permanent shelters in Barangays Pago and Maribi, Tanauan, Leyte.


 In April, 2014, Oxfam, an international humanitarian organization, on its briefing paper entitled The Right Move? Ensuring durable relocation after Typhoon Haiyan, observed that the Government plans have ignored “key elements” of sustainable relocation processes, and lack technical guidance and support. “The legal rights of thousands of people to be informed and consulted are not being met,” says the report.

The report also said that if the more than 200,000 Yolanda survivors would not be given a chance to voice their needs and take part in the planning, relocation efforts are likely to fail and push survivors deeper into poverty.

The on-going construction of Balangkayan Resettlement Project located at Barangay Cantubi, more or less 10 kilometers distance from the poblacion of Balangkayan, Eastern Samar. According to one of the workers, some 380 units are being constructed at the moment with a project cost amounting
 to more than P100 million. 
Unlike in other project site, this resettlement project in Balangkayan, Eastern Samar do not have billboards displayed in the area for important information as a requirement for the
implementation of government projects. 
Meanwhile, the NHA said that there are major challenges they are facing now in implementing the housing component for the Yolanda Rehabilitation. “The lack of available lands in safe zones, legal concerns on titling properties, issuances of permits/clearances, availability of raw materials and inclement weather were the hindering factors we have to face in all 14 provinces,” NHA general manager Sinforoso R. Pagunsan stressed.

The Yolanda Recovery and Rehabilitation Plan

The damage to the housing stock affected by Yolanda adds significantly to the national housing gap, which was estimated at 3.7 million units in 2010, and projected to grow to 5.6 million units by 2016.

The extent of the destruction caused by Yolanda, the high level of poverty among affected households, and the need to relocate some households out of hazard-prone areas, requires a sustained, well-coordinated effort to meet overall housing needs.

At the end of November 2013, NEDA finalized the Yolanda Recovery and Rehabilitation plan (YRRP). The YRRP covers the following five priority areas with specified broad interventions and designated agency responsibilities: (1) shelter and reconstruction of houses; (2) power restoration; (3) livelihood and employment; (4) resettlement and psychosocial care; and (5) environmental protection.
  
The YRRP will be implemented in three sequential phases from December 2013 to December 2017. The first phase from December 2013 to March 2014 will provide immediate humanitarian needs to affected population. The second phase, from December 2013 to December 2014, will focus on short term recovery and rehabilitation of affected areas, housing and livelihoods, and providing social assistance and care. The third phase, from January 2015 to December 2017, will focus on larger and more complex reconstruction investments.

Poverty Impact Assessment

In the Poverty Impact Assessment made by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), estimates that an additional 1.5 million persons may fall into poverty in the immediate aftermath of the typhoon. This represents a 24.0% increase in the number of impoverished persons in Visayas and a 7.1 % increase in the total number of poor persons in the Philippines, threatening to cancel out the country’s gains in poverty reduction in the last four years.

The poverty gap in the Visayas, which measures how far poor people are below the poverty line, has substantially widened in Eastern Visayas. The implication of this larger poverty gap is that not only are there more people impoverished as a result of Typhoon Yolanda, but many of the poor will take a longer time to escape poverty.

The YRRP has identified appropriate interventions to address the channels in which the disaster may increase long term poverty. Typhoon Yolanda is likely to increase poverty in the Visayas through four channels: death and disability, sudden loss of income, depletion of assets, loss of public infrastructure, and stress on fiscal budget allocations are also diverted from other priority public spending programs.

The government anticipates the recovery program will take approximately four years to compete. It is important that community expectations are managed and that programs are implemented in a timely manner. Housing reconstruction, which will be the largest component of the recovery program, is usually at risk of delayed implementation due to surges in price inflation for construction materials. In this regard, the government could lift import duties on construction materials to cap price inflation. 
 
Shelter Cluster (International Community)

The Philippine Government accepted the UN offer of international assistance November 9, 2013. The Government also welcomed the deployment, in the initial phase of disaster response of a large number of countries’ military assets.

The one-year Strategic Response Plan launched on December 18, 2013 with funding request of $788 million and was aligned to the Government’s Yolanda Recovery and Rehabilitation Plan
Typhoon Yolanda severely damaged 1.1 million homes when it swept through Central Philippines on November 8, 2013.

In response to the disaster, the Government has asked humanitarian organizations to address the shelter needs of 500,000 households. While the remaining families will be assisted directly by the Government.

The Shelter Cluster in the Philippines, during the early phase of the humanitarian response, was led by the Government and co-led by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).


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