Survivors hit with a double whammy
Survivors of Typhoon ‘‘Yolanda’’ (Haiyan) on Wednesday appealed to President Benigno Aquino III to provide decent shelters to 10,000 families who will be displaced by the P7.9-billion plan to build a dike as protection against storm surges.
In an open letter, the Urban Poor Associates said it may not be against the Department of Public Works and Highways project dubbed as “Storm Surge Protection: Road Heightening and Tide Embankment” project, but lamented that until now the 10,000 survivor-families have not been relocated into permanent housing units that the national government has promised them.
“The families currently living in the project site are at risk of losing their homes again because until now, the promised permanent housing units are not completed yet and issues regarding living standards—such as shallow septic tanks, an open dumpsite nearby and poor drainage system—remain,” the survivors said.
Since Typhoon Yolanda hit the country in November 2013, families are still living in temporary shelters made of light materials which render them vulnerable to typhoons.
“Life is hard in these houses. They are overcrowded, poorly ventilated, and a lot of kids are getting sick,” the typhoon survivors said in the letter.
The dike project of the DPWH covers the 27.3-kilometer stretch of shoreline from Tacloban City to Tanauan, Leyte.
So far, the National Housing Authority said there are only 534 permanent houses that have been turned over to the families while 13,801 houses are yet to be built.
“In some barangays, people have to travel far to fetch water. It is extra difficult for women, children, and the elderly, and consumed so much time that could have been spent doing productive work. In some barangays, families have to wait for the government’s water ration, and it’s usually not enough,” the letter said.
Tacloban fisherfolk leader Losanto Castillo Jr., who is also one of the letter’s signatories, said that two years after Haiyan (Yolanda) struck their province, poor communities are still struggling to survive.
He said that the dike project can threaten the only source of livelihood of his fellow fisherfolks.
“It is already difficult for us to make enough money to feed our families because Haiyan destroyed the fishing grounds thus reducing our daily catch,” he said. “This project limits our livelihood options because there are no guarantees that we will not be moved far from the sea, or that there are areas along the tide embankment structure where it will be safe for us to leave our boats.”
Algina Lacaba, United Northern IDP Resettlement Association said that the government should prioritize first resolving the lack of water in the permanent sites before embarking on another project.
“We laud the government for this infrastructure project, but we hope this will not be done in haste and at the expense of the welfare of the families displaced by Haiyan,” Lacaba said.