66,000 new homes for Typhoon Haiyan survivors

Published: 25 November 2015 15:34 CET

By Kate Marshall, IFRC

When Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines in November 2013 over one million houses were flattened or badly damaged. Two years on, more than 66,000 homes have been built or repaired under the Red Cross recovery operation.

Spread over nine provinces in central Philippines the shelter programme has included the construction of new typhoon-resistant homes as well as cash assistance, training and materials to help some families rebuild themselves.

Philippine Red Cross Chairman Richard Gordon said he was extremely pleased with the progress of the shelter operation.

‘We are on time and even faster than we planned for,’ he said. ‘Assuming no major problems, by the end of the year we will have reached 91% of our target of 80,200 houses.’

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), 17 Red Cross national societies as well as private donors including Air Asia,  HSBC, Citibank and Singapore-based CUBE, have all contributed to the reconstruction efforts led by the Philippine Red Cross.

Last week 128 families moved into the Red Cross Village project, in northern Cebu. The village was funded by the French Red Cross and features a livelihood centre, a multipurpose hall with health and child care centres. These facilities are also open to all the 3,000 plus residents of the surrounding barangay (village). Householders can access half-price electricity thanks to the village’s solar power plant, which also provides electricity for all the facilities.

The IFRC has also played a lead role in, the Shelter Cluster, a coordination body involving the Philippine Government which has developed safer standards for rebuilding homes. Families have received basic training on safer building techniques and core shelters have been designed so that they can be easily adapted and expanded according to the wishes and capacity of each household.

Many of the homes built by the Red Cross are comprised of a concrete core with an attached latrine. Others use lumber, bamboo and woven indigenous materials. Physically able beneficiaries contribute labour to the construction process, receiving building material and skilled labour in return.

Mother of two Marlyn Revis, from Puis, Aklan, said the shock of losing her old house and the injuries sustained by her husband during Typhoon Haiyan hastened her debilitating eye disease. Now totally blind, she navigates her new half-concrete home and outside area with the aid of a stick.

‘The layout and the smooth floor make it easy for me to get around without tripping over things,’ she says. ‘My husband designed the furniture so it doesn’t get in the way.’

Most Red Cross houses have distinctive red roofs of corrugated iron, making them easy to spot across rice fields and in crowded urban areas.

Some families have been relocated from areas close to the sea that are considered unsafe.

The Villanueva family, from Candual in Capiz Province, is one of 17 families relocated to a new site. After the trauma of losing their homes and belongings, they are relieved to be reunited with familiar faces from their former neighbourhood as they settle in. Mother-of-eight Annabelle has plans for a kitchen extension out the back, and will divide the interior space to create more privacy for her growing family. The ceiling will also be insulated against heat.

Her next door neighbour Judy Ann Acepcion says she will add a custom-made internal partition.

‘I will have an inside kitchen, rather than have one outside like some of my neighbours,’ she says. ‘I am so happy that I can make some changes.’

In the past 10 years the Philippine Red Cross has gained significant experience in shelter construction, having built more than 50,000 units following major tropical storms that have struck Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao. These operations however, are dwarfed by the scope and scale of the Haiyan shelter response.

According to figures in the IFRC’s two year progress report, by the end of August spending on the Haiyan shelter programme had reached USD 81.3 million, accounting for 40% of the operation’s total outlay.