Life after Typhoon Melor: Early recovery focuses on shelter repair

19 April 2016

It has been three weeks since Typhoon Melor struck Central Philippines and Eastern Visayas, and many communities are starting to rebuild their homes and their lives, especially in those areas that have yet to receive proper support for shelter and livelihood needs. The lack of building supplies and materials are forcing many of them to meet their needs in an inadequate, unsafe and unstable way.

60-year-old Ernesto Ahitan, a resident of Real in the municipality of Monreal, Masbate has almost finished constructing the skeleton of his new two-storey home.

“I’m not really a carpenter by profession but my fishing boat was destroyed, so now I’m keeping myself busy,” Ernesto said. “I know this house might not be strong, but for me, it’s better than having no home at all.”

He and his family hope to settle into their new home before the end of January. Ernesto used a mix of salvaged house parts and new materials purchased using the 1,000 Philippine Pesos given the municipality of Monreal to residents whose homes have been completely destroyed by the typhoon.

In the province of Masbate, the municipalities of Aroroy and Claveria were severely affected, while Monreal sustained the worst damage. 89 percent of totally damaged and 78 percent of partially damaged houses are located in these areas.

Meanwhile, in the coastal town of Zone 2 in Bulan, Sorsogon, communities living by the coast have also started rebuilding with materials that washed ashore. Fallen coconut trees were used as a base support or cut into planks to make the walls of these new homes. In other affected municipalities, wood from the fallen trees and houses were burned into charcoal, and then sold for 120 Philippine Pesos per sack. Farming communities can be seen tilling the land and planting rice seedlings, signalling the start of the planting season.

In October 2015, Typhoon Koppu (locally known as Lando) swept across Central Luzon during the last harvesting season, causing significant damage to agriculture and the livelihood of farmers. It was considered the most disastrous typhoon in the Philippines in 2015 by the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) launched an emergency appeal amounting to 3.7 million Swiss Francs (USD 3.6 million) last December to support the Philippine Red Cross in providing emergency assistance to thousands of people affected by successive typhoons and tropical storms. The appeal aims to help the Philippine Red Cross reach 45,000 people with humanitarian assistance across the islands of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

“As we transition into the early recovery phase, the focus of the early recovery programme will be shelter repairs and cash grants for livelihoods development,” said Patrick Elliot, the Operations Manager for the IFRC Philippine Delegation. “This decision is made based on the reports and recommendations from our assessment teams. We expect to be operationally complete by the end of this year.”

To date, the Red Cross has reached at least 9,400 families across 7 provinces (Bulacan, Masbate, Oriental Mindoro, Northern Samar, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga and Sorsogon) with relief assistance. The relief distributions include food packs for 9,404 families, hygiene kits to 3,029 families, sleeping mats for 7,185 families, tarpaulins for 4,350 families and water storage containers to 4,523 families.

For the latest updates on the emergency response in the Philippines, follow @IFRCAsiaPacific and use the hashtags #NonaPH and #Melorì


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