Eastern Samar communities assured of disaster-resilient shelters and evacuation centersOct 20, 2016
20 October 2016, Eastern Samar – As Typhoon Lawin (international name Haima) ushers in, communities from Eastern Samar are now more prepared and assured of more resilient shelters and evacuation centers should another disaster threaten the province.
European Union Ambassador Franz Jessen and United Nations Development Programme Philippines Country Director Titon Mitra today turned over in Eastern Samar three community evacuation centers (CECs) to the local government officials of Mercedes, Salcedo and Quinapondan and one cold storage facility to the municipality of Guiuan.
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 Typhoon Yolanda. With funding support of € 9.7 million (approx. Php508 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 also builds their resilience to future natural disasters.
The community evacuation centers and cold storage facility will double up as sites for livelihood or other community activities and will be maximised even when there are no disasters.
Mayor Enrique Cabos, Mercedes Municipality, Eastern Samar has expressed his appreciation for the completion of the community evacuation center to Mercedes. “This is the first UNDP-EU intervention with multipurpose functionality”, he said. Among his plans for the CEC is to utilize it as a training center for the residents of Mercedes on alternative livelihoods when there is no disaster, and also as an income-generating facility to help in the maintenance of the building.
Meanwhile, Ms Cristina Lacasa, Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Officer of Salcedo, Eastern Samar said that the CEC is the only facility that is earthquake-resistant and typhoon-resilient in the municipality of Salcedo, which has also become the office of the emergency relief team and where goods for emergency relief assistance are stored. With the spacious and comfortable building design, the center has also doubled up as a venue for school activities and other in-house community activities.
UNDP and EU worked with 15 local government units severely affected by Typhoon Yolanda for Project Recovery: two in Eastern Leyte (Tacloban City and Palo), one in Western Leyte (Ormoc City), four in Biliran Province (Biliran, Caibiran, Cabucgayan, and Naval); and, eight in Easter Samar (Balangkayan, Giporlos, Guiuan, Hernani, Lawaan, Mercedes, Quinapondan, and Salcedo).
The project identified 11 of the 15 LGUs to each receive CECs (each with a 50-family or 250-person capacity) and some also will receive support to develop coastal and small public infrastructures. 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 communications, emergency response and rescue equipment, and training support on evacuation, and water/mountain search and rescue.
Project RECOVERY also extends support to families/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 three hubs, i.e., Tacloban, Guiuan and Ormoc.
EU Ambassador Jessen told the local communities how pleased he was that "we did not just build a cold storage facility or some evacuation centers or resettlement homes but we have built strong, united and empowered communities".
“The EU believes that empowerment is the key to sustainability and therefore, we are assisting communities to become self-reliant and resilient who will always rise up to any calamity that might happen in the future”, said Ambassador Jessen.
UNDP Country Director Titon Mitra said, “Hazards like floods, severe wind and typhoons are forces of nature – we cannot stop these from happening, but we can act to prevent the deaths, hardship and economic damage these hazards can cause. We hope that with these disaster-resilient infrastructure and more stable support for people’s livelihoods, we can prevent or at the least lessen the impacts of disasters to the communities.”
The EU has to-date provided about € 40 million (Php 2.08 billion) in financial assistance to typhoon Haiyan victims including € 30 million (Php 1.2 billion) for emergency aid and another € 10 million (Php 520 million) for reconstruction which includes the construction of these cold storage facility and community evacuation centers. Together with the EU member states, the EU assistance amounts to € 500 million (Php 26 billion) for families and communities affected by Typhoon Haiyan