November 26, 2014
About 1,813 families from nine provinces affected by Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) will be celebrating their first Christmas in their newly-built shelters with disaster-resilient features following the series of turnover of houses by NASSA/Caritas Philippines.
Those who received their new houses this year are from 118 communities in the provinces of Leyte, Samar, Eastern Samar, Palawan, Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Iloilo, and Cebu.
“Our Christmases will never be the same again! Even with just plain porridge in the table, we feel we are richer!” Leopoldo Alcazaren, one of the shelter beneficiaries in Iloilo, said.
The houses built by NASSA/Caritas Philippines can be classified into three categories: transitional, progressive core and permanent, each with key features and varying life span which depends on the preference and need of the beneficiary.
As of October 31, permanent shelters built are at 241 units, core shelters at 245, transitional shelters at 737, and units repaired at 61. There is also an on-going construction of 135 permanent shelters, 242 progressive core shelters, 42 transitional shelters, and 110 repairs, which are expected to be finished before the year ends.
“We do not just build houses that could withstand typhoons or disasters. We also considered the culture and preference of the recipients. For instance, our indigenous communities in Palawan preferred to keep the old look of their houses, so we just added features to make it resilient,” Archbishop Rolando Tria Tirona, OCD said.
The houses are built based on the eight resilient messages set by the Shelter Cluster Organization, namely: build on strong foundations, tie-down from bottom up, brace against the storm, use strong joints, good roof, safe location, simple shape, and being prepared by the resident.
Another distinct feature of the housing project is the incorporation of the sweat equity system, which revives the spirit of ‘bayanihan’ among the community’s people.
“This is our holistic approach to disaster risk management. We are not only giving them fish, we are also teaching them how to fish. Along with the values formation, we are building their capacities by giving them various trainings such as skills on how to build and repair their own houses,” Archbishop Tirona added.
NASSA/Caritas Philippines, the social action arm of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, is also focused on the provision of water and sanitation facilities, food security and livelihood assistance and trainings, disaster risk reduction trainings, capacity building, and ecosystem recovery.
Jing Rey Henderson
Senior Communications Officer
(0905) 546-9977 / 525-1924