Philippines: One year after typhoon Haiyan
Malteser International: More efforts needed to provide the displaced with safe homes
A greater effort must be made to provide the families displaced by Typhoon Haiyan with safer homes, humanitarian relief agency Malteser International states one year after the storm devastated the Philippines. Delays in state-sponsored reconstruction have left thousands of families still living in temporary shelters and tents. Malteser International together with the Philippine Association of the Order of Malta has already delivered 200 core shelters in 4 villages; by May, 500 more will be constructed.
“Since many of the villagers depend on the ocean as transport to access the nearest town and some for their livelihoods, many used to live by the shore. However, the typhoon has shown them that it is much safer to live further inland with the tradeoff of having a longer walk to work,” says Matius Larson Krisetya, Malteser International’s Partner Program Coordinator in the Philippines. “Several people from the communities who have a larger piece of land away from the water agreed to allow other families to buy and build on their property. This act of solidarity, through the villagers’ own initiative, allowed us to start building quickly. It is amazing how they have pulled together as a community.”
The homes, constructed from locally sourced materials, are built to better resist future storms and typhoons. Many of the houses also incorporate a so-called inclusive design: barrier-free, universally accessible homes which are geared to the resident’s individual needs. “The new houses are not only safer, but also attempt to meet the mobility needs of the most vulnerable population, such as the elderly or those who are visually impaired or have difficulty in walking,” explains Krisetya.
From the beginning, Malteser International worked together with the residents in a participative approach. “We have informed the villagers regularly on the important elements of safe construction, the construction process, their role in the construction and our criteria for the selection of the most vulnerable families,” Krisetya says.
At the same time, Malteser International works in cooperation with a local vocational training agency to train young adults from the villages as carpenters and bricklayers. “This allows them to not only make a contribution to the reconstruction of their country, but at the same time gives them needed skills to generate income for their families,” Krisetya adds.
During the emergency phase, Malteser International distributed food to over 2,500 families, as well as hygiene kits and water containers and other relief items to 6,300 families. A water treatment unit provided clean drinking water to an entire village in the first weeks after the disaster. 250 houses have been repaired, 52 large tents were set up as classrooms and play areas, and 800 families received tarpaulins. In addition, Malteser International distributed school materials to almost 2,500 school children as well as tools for cleanup and farming tools to the villagers.