Nearly nine months after super typhoon Yolanda smashed central Philippines, survivors dwelling in transitional shelters in Tacloban City are becoming more vulnerable to worsening poverty.
Residents like Benedicto Dablo, 64 have been asking for livelihood support from the central government and match the amount assistance provided by various non-government organizations (NGOs).
Dablo, the bunkhouse camp leader of Sagkahan district, expressed disappointment over government’s failure to consider the source of living of families in transitional shelters.
Before the typhoon, his family of eight settled within the district. After the calamity, their entire house were swept away, forcing them to stay at the Tacloban Convention Center for three months before transferring to the bunkhouse.
He was a root crops vendor before the disaster. Their family shifted to managing a sari-sari store or a small neighborhood retail shop.
“Living in a bunkhouse is like living in hell. We were place here but seem that nobody cares. Some children got dengue fever while most elderly are suffering high blood and heat stroke due to the very warm condition during noontime,” Dablo shared.
“During rainy season, the water was clogged and stocked causing a foul odor, the possible reason why dengue mosquitoes are present in our area,” the wrinkly man added gesturing to their surroundings.
Oxfam, an international NGO responding to the immediate needs of survivors, including shelter and livelihood, has been supporting poor families through cash-for-work activities such as coconut farm clearing, rice seed distributions and fishing boat repairs and rebuilding.
In a post-Yolanda report by Caroline Gluck of Oxfam, she reiterated the importance of earning an income, given their vulnerability to resettlement.
“The government is planning to move 200,000 survivors away from the coast, to protect them from future storms, without integrating job opportunities into its relocation plans,” Gluck noted.
The NGO also found that in some places, relocation sites are up to 15 kilometers away from old homes.
Several families in Leyte admitted to Oxfam they had decided not to relocate because transport costs from their new homes back to the coast where they worked were too expensive.
“Relocation is not only about houses. It’s also about jobs, safety and transport. The Philippine government needs to talk to the people to understand what their needs are.” Oxfam’s country director in the Philippines, Justin Morgan, said. – Jeffrey Consultado, LNU Intern