While many people are still living in precarious and dangerous conditions, Rona is one of the fortunate ones. Her family is one of the 126 to benefit from the ACTED construction project in Guiuan.
She received the keys for her new house on 6 October. It is ready to receive her, her husband and their four children. The embellishment works are nearly finished and, what’s more, roses have been planted in the outside courtyard.
Build Back Better
Rona has discovered this new setting with a feeling of relief. These brand new two-storey houses are called “Eastwinds” and mark the beginning of a new life. The fear of seeing your roof blown away is over, the fear of losing everything is over… These solid concrete dwellings have been built on safe ground. They have been designed to withstand typhoon winds using build back better techniques, with sanitation facilities and connected to drinking water, and provide comfort and safety to families who have suffered a great deal.
After the typhoon, we had to find shelter quickly. And like so many other people, we settled near the coast, in the “non-construction zone”. We couldn’t afford to look for better, despite my husband’s activity as a fisherman. We lived in fear of a new disaster and I was afraid for my children. We can now breathe. These new houses are unhoped-for, I couldn’t believe it.
These spacious houses have been reserved for large families from the "barangays" (districts) 7 and Hollywood, where residents lived in overcrowded conditions in shacks made of metal and tarpaulin sheets. The Philippine National Housing Authority (NHA) is handling the other 200 families and has had permanent shelters built on the same site.
After Haiyan, the nightmare of Guiuan
On 8 November 2013, Typhoon Haiyan devastated the center of the Philippines, leaving over 10,000 people dead, 2,000 missing and depriving hundreds of thousands of people of everything. The images of totally destroyed cities, uprooted trees and grounded boats were shown all around the world… The port city of Guiuan, located on the island of Samar on the Pacific coast, where the typhoon hit the country, was hit particularly hard.
This event has rekindled and highlighted the region’s vulnerability: every year, it is struck by increasingly powerful typhoons, which exacerbates poverty.
Winona moved into the house next door with her family a month ago already. Their shelter was located in barangay 7, in the area where building is prohibited, just above the sea, and had become particularly vulnerable to rising water levels. They were consequently among the priority families for rehousing.
Here too, after the emergency and concern, people are getting back to their peaceful daily lives: it is now time to decorate rooms and choose curtains or flowers.
A fresh start
The next stage: getting back to work. While the typhoon swept away everything in its path, depriving residents of their livelihoods, some are now benefitting from support in restarting an income-generating activity.
A market should soon be built and provide jobs for 38 people who have followed training offered by ACTED. This is indeed the case for Rona, who is really looking forward to being able to sell her food products there.
And be better prepared to more effectively manage emergencies
In the field, the project is being managed by the NGO ACTED, as the “Eastwinds” houses are part of the humanitarian response and resilience activities implemented by France in the region. The project is being supported by AFD (with EUR 1.5m) and the ALSTOM and Lafarge foundations.
ACTED advocates for an integrated approach to allow the population and local authorities to be better prepared to face the impacts of climate change and strengthen their capacities to withstand disasters. In practical terms, in addition to the construction of 126 resistant housing units for the most vulnerable families, the project has focused on helping people return to a stable economic activity, by training over 5,000 farmers in new practices and assisting the households which have been the most affected by the typhoon.
Last but not least, local authorities have benefited from assistance in preparing risk prevention and management plans to better anticipate crises.
The project is reaching completion after two years of implementation and the housing units are ready. The inauguration of these new houses took place on 6 October 2017. The start of a new life for the residents of Guiuan.
Reconstruction: France is committed
The dramatic consequences of the typhoon triggered a movement of international solidarity, in which France took part. President François Hollande was the first to commit France in the reconstruction process for Guiuan during his visit to the Philippines in February 2015. AFD subsequently financed the initiative of the French NGO ACTED.
The objective is to improve living conditions for populations affected by the increasingly frequent typhoons in the country, mainly in the Southeast Samar region.