Lack of funds plagues rebuilding effort
Editor’s note: China Daily sent reporters to the Philippines to cover the country’s disaster relief operation and reconstruction in the areas devastated by Typhoon Haiyan. This is the first installment of our reports.
Survivors of deadly Super Typhoon Haiyan have begun rebuilding their homes in the storm-ravaged coastal areas of the central Philippines.
But they told China Daily the biggest challenge they face is a lack of funds, meaning they can only afford to build much weaker houses.
Dolores Rivera, a 62-yearold housewife, stood among the ruins of her concrete house next to the sea in San Jose, Leyte province. The house, which had just been built, was destroyed overnight on Nov 8.
“It was finished in September, only two months before the surging waters destroyed it,” Rivera said.
Her husband is a retired officer from the Philippine armed forces. Saving for a fancy new home had not been a big problem for the couple until the surging waters brought by the typhoon destroyed most buildings on the beach.
The couple had spent six months building their new retirement home and a concrete wall to fend off the tides. The project cost 3 million pesos ($68,700), Rivera said.
“When the typhoon came early in the morning, I was with my stepson and my cousin in our old house. Luckily, all three of us went upstairs to the second floor,” she said.
But when the surging waters receded, the sea wall and new house had been destroyed along with the wooden cabins in the neighborhood.
The waters washed away sand supporting the foundations of some villas on the beach, leaving part of the foundations suspended half a meter above a sandy slope.
Along with poor residents living along the coast, well-off families also suffered a huge financial blow. Rivera said she is not able to afford a new concrete house in the same price range.
As a result, a wooden home, costing far less, is being built in the front courtyard, with several workers busy installing iron roofing. Roosters, cats and dogs wander idly by amid debris scattered in the yard.
The rescue team from the Red Cross Society of China is carrying out a survey of the devastated areas to find sites to build portable prefabricated houses.
Meanwhile, low-income residents like Nikki Isio, a 26-yearold father of four, are facing a tough situation.
“There are 15 people from four families — all of them my relatives — living together here,” Isio said amid the rubble of his house, with blue waterproof clothes hung for shelter and muddy water lying on the ground.
“We can get rice and sardines from the local government every day. What we need most now is a shelter,” he said.
Manila has increased the budget for rehabilitating areas devastated by the typhoon to 40.9 billion pesos, Herminio Coloma Jr, secretary of the Philippine Presidential Communications Operations Office, said on Saturday.
The funding was raised from 38.8 billion pesos after factoring in requirements for repairs to local government buildings and facilities, police and fire stations and public markets, he said.
But people along the coast appear to have little hope of receiving government funds.
Isio said: “We have no money. It is unlikely we will see the government pay for our rebuilding. We hope to receive some aid from international organizations such as the United Nations.”
For the residents, reusing materials found in debris may be an economical and feasible way to survive.
Many of the rebuilding projects, initiated by the residents themselves, involve simple, wooden cabins covered by iron roofing recycled from debris.
Residents recycle debris to rebuild their homes in the San Jose Village in Durag, Leyte Island, the Philippines, on Nov 26.