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Rebuilding Haiyan-affected areas remains 'a work in progress'

Church groups help typhoon victims along the road to recovery

Ronald Reyes, Tacloban City

Ronald Reyes, Tacloban City

Published: December 02, 2015 07:19 AM GMT

Updated: December 01, 2015 08:30 PM GMT

Rebuilding Haiyan-affected areas remains 'a work in progress'

Victims of super typhoon have started rebuilding their homes in the Archdiocese of Palo with the help of the Catholic Relief Services. (File photo by Vincent Go)

Rebuilding devastated communities in the central Philippines remains a "work in progress" Catholic Church officials said.

"I can say that we are building back better," said Renee Lambert of Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the overseas humanitarian aid organization of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

"It's a work in progress," she said, adding that response mechanisms and collaboration with various groups have to be learned for future disasters.

On Dec. 1, the Archdiocese of Palo joined victims of Super Typhoon Haiyan in endorsing a "declaration on climate change and community-managed disaster risk reduction."

"A plan of action to address climate change and disaster risks must be undertaken," said Father Al Cris Badana, director of the Caritas office in Palo.

The archdiocese bore the brunt of typhoon Haiyan that devastated the province of Leyte, leaving some 7,500 people dead and thousands missing, in November 2013.

Citing the experience of Haiyan survivors, Father Badana said the effect of climate change "cuts across all sectors ... with the poor suffering the greatest impacts."


Road to recovery

CRS reported that it has provided shelter assistance to some 20,238 families, "hygiene promotion" to 17,230 individuals, and provided livelihoods for at least 8,655 families.

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The aid agency's rebuilding program covers 99 villages in the provinces of Eastern Samar and Leyte.

The Archdiocese of Palo reported that it has poured in some US$3.2 million for the building of resilient communities devastated by the typhoon.

"Everything is doing well," said Father Chris Arthur Militante, spokesman of the Archdiocese of Palo. "Our efforts continue along with our partnership with other aid groups," he said.

He said the response of people is also "doing well." 

Lambert said the church's response to the disaster brought "positive results" to communities. "We have a very strong collaboration and working relations," she said.

She said work on the ground is moving fast from emergency response to providing alternative livelihood to affected people, particularly farmers and fisherfolk. 

Aside from shelter and entrepreneurial support, CRS also provides capability-building from the household to village level on disaster and risk reduction response.

"Our project is community-based," Lambert said, emphasizing the importance for communities to become resilient.

Last month, CRS and its program partners affirmed their commitment to an environmental approach that values people through community-managed disaster risk reduction.

A manifesto issued by the National Secretariat for Social Action of the bishops' conference pointed out that climate and disaster risks should be viewed as a "development issue."

"Building resilient communities is increasing individual and community capacity to survive, bounce back, and transform the systems and structures, empowering them to have increased influence in policy advocacy and actualization of plans to address the root causes of disaster risks," the statement said.

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