Shelter still major issue in Philippines, a month after Haiyan | Pacific Beat

Shelter still major issue in Philippines, a month after Haiyan

Shelter still major issue in Philippines, a month after Haiyan

Updated 9 December 2013, 17:57 AEDT

One month after super typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines, sheltering people made homeless by the storm continues to be a major challenge.

Fifteen million people were affected by the giant storm which hit the central islands, with over a million houses damaged or destroyed.

More than four million people are still living in makeshift shelters in Manila and elsewhere.

Presenter: Sen Lam

Speaker: Lex Kassenberg, Philippine country director, CARE

KASSENBERG: We are now a month into the disaster and the shelter is still a major, major problem. After the initial shock, people are trying to put their lives together, but the houses were totally destroyed, the ability of them to re-use some of the materials is really challenging. So one of the tasks, the major task that all the agencies took upon them and CARE is one of them, is to provide people with initial shelter, so that they have at least a roof above their head and we're now looking at the second phase, where we can provide some more longer term shelter that includes 'CGI' sheets and everything.

The initial distribution really was more tarpaulins and sticks and ropes to put basic shelters together.

LAM: The immediate needs of the homeless, of course, need to be met Lex, but also the loss of income is a huge concern, isn't it, to people who've lost everything. What is CARE doing in assisting any kind of long term plan, if you like, to restore these livelihoods?

KASSENBERG: Mm Hmm. It's a challenging one and it's indeed a fairly long term one. For the moment, in the fairly short term, we have to help people with food assistance and I catch for work activities.

But just to give an indication, a lot of people on these islands are dependent on coconut trees and the coconut industry and more than a million coconut trees have been destroyed and replanting them and making them productive again for the hybrid varieties takes anywhere between six to eight years and the local varieties eight to ten years.

So one of the real challenges that all the organisations are facing, is what are you going to do with all these workers in the meantime.

And we're looking at livelihood security initiatives and activities, maybe some occasional training that we possibly can do in the future with them to retrain them, but it's one of the major challenges and it's something that is a big item of discussion in the cluster coordination groups at the moment.

LAM: And Lex, what about the children. Are they returning to schools, even if they can't go home yet to their home villages? Because it's been proven in previous disaster situations that some kind of sense of normality is very important for children?

KASSENBERG: Yeah, yeah.

Well, I must say that the government of the Philippines is really trying to get things back to as normal as possible and they're fairly heavily involved. And I must say, I feel they are quite pro-active.

So, one of the things that they are doing is trying to get the children back to school and it is not just the normality aspect of it, but there is still, as you may be aware, a head count going on. There are close to 6,000 people reported as dead, but there are still about 1500 people missing.

So getting the kids back to school is also one way of trying to confirm that number and see what's happening. But yes, getting them to school is absolutely a priority and organisations are trying to help with that as best as they can.

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