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‘Yolanda’ victims decry housing lack

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Survivors of Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international name: “Haiyan”) assailed government reports on reconstruction in affected provinces in Eastern Visayas, saying that nearly three years after the world’s strongest storm ravaged the region full rehabilitation remained a challenge.

The Community of Yolanda Survivors and Partners (CYSP), a newly formed alliance of 163 community organizations and nine NGOs, scored the National Housing Authority’s claim that the housing projects were nearly completed.

“From a target of more than 205,000 shelters, only 20,893 houses had been built as of March 2016,” or only 10 percent, said Danny Carranza, CYSP advocacy and policy leader.

The group said it recently met with the Office of the Cabinet Secretary, Office of Civil Defense and Climate Change Commission, along with local planners, in Malacañang to discuss the issues still hounding affected families in Eastern Visayas.

In its recommendation paper, a copy of which was obtained by the Inquirer, the CYSP said many housing projects lacked access to basic social services, such as water and electricity. They were also inaccessible to schools and sources of livelihood.

Jolito Chavez, a fisherman from Tacloban City whose house was destroyed by Yolanda, said he and his wife would be relocated to an area 4 kilometers from the coast. But not one of the 989 units to be given to housing beneficiaries in their barangay had been finished.

“There was no consultation, no livelihood projects,” said Chavez, whose family still lives in the same bunkhouse intended as a temporary shelter in the same areas struck by the typhoon.

Carranza said the group had reached out to Vice President Leni Robredo, who now leads the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), for help.

The CYSP also called for a central reconstruction agency and a thorough audit of government funds and projects, including international donations.

“The government asked for money in the name of Yolanda victims,” said survivor Fara Diva Gamalo. “Why haven’t we received anything, if [helping us] was the intention?”

Gamalo, a government employee in Tacloban, said she was optimistic the new administration would speed up efforts to help the survivors.

The group also called for a more participatory and consultative strategy in rebuilding their lives and homes. They cited the current tide embankment project in Tacloban, a 27-kilometer-long and 4-meter-high sea wall that will cost P7.5 billion./rga

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