UNDP, EU turn over disaster-resilient structures to Yolanda victims in E. Visayas

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TACLOBAN CITY—More than four years after Super typhoon Yolanda (international code name Haiyan) hit the Visayas provinces, recovery efforts continued for communities with the turnover of disaster-resilient infrastructure in Tacloban and Palo in Leyte, and in Balankayan, Hernani and Quinapondan in Eastern Samar for three days last week.

The European Union (EU) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), represented by its Deputy Country Director Enrico Gaveglia, turned over on Wednesday resettlement housing units and a multiuse training center in Tacloban and a coastal resource management center in Palo. In Eastern Samar, community evacuation centers and housing units are now ready for use in Balankayan, Hernani and Quinapondan.

“The EU believes we have helped build stronger and more united and empowered communities that will always rise up to any calamity that might happen in the future,” EU Ambassador to the Philippines Franz Jessen said.

The structures now make these communities more prepared and assured of more resilient shelters and evacuation centers should another disaster threaten their provinces.

“We are pleased to support the continued recovery of Yolanda-affected communities. It is a long process for development to take place, but with our collective efforts we are helping to ensure a safer and resilient future for the communities,” Gaveglia said.

The construction of disaster-resilient infrastructure is part of the EU’s package of assistance, delivered through UNDP’s Project Recovery, to help families affected by Yolanda. With funding support of €9.7 million (abut P508 million) from the EU, Project Recovery complements the efforts of national and local governments in enabling the timely and sustainable recovery of Yolanda-affected communities and builds their resilience to future natural disasters.

The community evacuation centers and multiuse training center will double up as sites for livelihood or other community activities and will be maximized even when there are no disasters.

UNDP and EU worked in 15 local government units (LGUs) severely affected by Yolanda for Project Recovery: three in Leyte (Tacloban City, Palo and Ormoc City), four in Biliran (Biliran, Caibiran, Cabucgayan and Naval); and eight in Eastern Samar (Balangkayan, Giporlos, Guiuan, Hernani, Lawaan, Mercedes, Quinapondan and Salcedo).

Eleven of the 15 LGUs received community evacuation centers (CEC), each with a 50-family or 250-person capacity, while others received support to develop coastal and small public infrastructure. All LGUs are being trained on disaster-risk reduction, preparedness and response, hazard-risk-capacity-vulnerability assessments and contingency planning.

They are also provided with basic communication, emergency response and rescue equipment, and training support on evacuation, and water/mountain search and rescue.

Project Recovery also extends support to families and communities engaged in the farming and fishing industries, as well as those in off-farm economic activities, who, based on records of the LGUs, suffered major losses in livelihood assets and completely lost their houses. The project operates from the three hubs—Tacloban, Guiuan and Ormoc.

The EU has to date provided about €40 million (P2.08 billion) in financial assistance to Haiyan victims, including €30 million (P12 billion) for emergency aid and another €10 million (P520 million) for reconstruction, which includes the construction of cold-storage facilities and community evacuation centers. Together with the EU member-states, the EU assistance amounts to €500 million (P26 billion) for families and communities affected by Haiyan.