NEARLY two years after super typhoon Yolanda (international name Haiyan) ripped through the Philippines, 128 families who lost their homes are moving into new, permanent houses with the support of the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) and its partners.
The Red Cross Village in Barangay Paypay, Daanbantayan, Cebu will be inaugurated on Friday, Nov. 6, with Richard J. Gordon, PRC chairman; Charlie Ayco, chief executive officer of Habitat for Humanity Philippines; and Mayor Augusto Corro of Daanbantayan leading the ceremony.
Representatives from local authorities, French Red Cross, France-Philippines United Actions and French companies will also be present.
The village is a unique project and the first fully developed resettlement site for typhoon survivors in the Philippines.
The 128 30-square-meter housing units come with a bathroom and latrine, including septic tank, and a decentralized treatment system for grey and used waters that make released waters harmless to the environment.
Energy is provided through a 33kW Photovoltaic Power Plant installed through the efforts of the Red Cross and Electricians Without Borders, a French non-government organization, allowing all households to access electricity at a half price.
The solar power plant also provides public lighting and electricity for the multi-purpose hall, day care center and barangay health center and the livelihood center.
“Better and safer housing is key to recovery but it is only by providing proper water sanitation and energy access and making sure that people have access to livelihoods that we support their long term resilience,” said Gordon. “What makes this project so unique is that we thought from the beginning that walls are not enough to rebuild a life.”
The site is located some 200 meters from the sea, close to the farming areas and the main barangay road.
The beneficiaries may either keep their livelihoods or develop new ones with the support of the Red Cross.
“Majority of beneficiaries will keep their livelihoods, and Red Cross has been working with farmers and fishermen in the barangay to help them increase their income, by training 14 individuals and supporting local associations,” said Gordon.
“We have also seen people, who benefitted from Red Cross cash grants last year, already taking the opportunity to set up new businesses they can move to the Red Cross village,” he added.
Ray Lederos, a 31-year-old farmer, used the Red Cross cash grant to start a barbershop.
“It is a livelihood that I can bring with me when I move in to the Red Cross village. I will be the only barber there. The 750 inhabitants are likely to visit my shop rather than spending money for transport to go to town. And with a livelihood I can call my own, I don’t have to rely on anyone ever again,” he said.
The livelihood center, a first of its kind and run by a local association of users, offers services, such as battery charging, refrigerators, computers, and allows farmers and fishermens’ associations to process food in the premises.
The new barangay health station and day care center, which was built through the donation of Sanofi Foundation, will also cater for the 3,124 population of the barangay.
To ensure that the community is better prepared for future disasters, the Philippine Red Cross will be storing equipment for preparedness and response in the “143 Team” room of the multi-purpose center.
All 128 beneficiary families were selected from a participative process, including transparent criteria, a barangay recovery committee and a local inter-agencies committee to prevent tensions from arising in the community.
The PRC will provide the beneficiaries with a usufruct on the housing units for 50 years, following the usufruct agreement on the 1,300 hectares piece of land endorsed by the Municipality of Daanbantayan.
The P62-million project was implemented with the support of the French Red Cross, and in partnership with Habitat for Humanity Philippines and France-Philippines United Action.
The project was made possible through the donations from French companies, such as Total, Sanofi and Caisse des Dépôts as well as the French public generosity.
Since Yolanda devastated the region, the Philippine Red Cross, together with French Red Cross, has been working in shelter, disaster risk reduction and livelihood in northern Cebu as part of its typhoon recovery effort.
The project is part of the Philippine Red Cross’s three-year 360-million-dollar recovery plan for 500,000 people in Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Iloilo, Leyte, Eastern and Western Samar, Cebu, Panay and Palawan islands.
The Philippine Red Cross and partners have already built or assisted in repairing 80 percent of the targeted 80,347 shelters.
“Recovery is well under way, but there are still humanitarian needs on the ground. We are working across 762 communities (barangays) to ensure people get the support they need to fully rebuild their live” said Gordon.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on November 04, 2015.