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.

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD - By ZHANG YUNBI in Ta­cloban, the Philip­pines zhangyunbi@chi­nadaily.com.cn

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.

WANG JING / CHINA DAILY

Res­i­dents re­cy­cle de­bris to re­build their homes in the San Jose Vil­lage in Durag, Leyte Is­land, the Philip­pines, on Nov 26.

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