Typhoon Haiyan, the Philippines: Cooperating in Building a Disaster-Resistant Community

The Province of Leyte, in the Philippines, was stricken by the typhoon Haiyan (locally known as Yolanda, and typhoon No.30 of 2013 in Japanese numbering) in November, 2013, and rehabilitation of the affected areas is under way. AAR Japan is continuing its support to the devastated areas for the purpose of not only recovering to the pre-disaster conditions, but also building communities that are resistant to future typhoons and other disasters. In August, 2014, we organized training workshop on housing construction and distributed housing repair materials in affected areas.  AAR Japan’s local staff member Ryan Labicane reports.

Organizing workshops to build disaster-resistant houses

"Build back better" workshop at New Kawayan, Tacloban City (August 6th, 2014)
On August 5th and 6th, 2014, AAR Japan organized "Build Back Better"workshop, teaching disaster survivors how to construct disaster-resistant houses at two wards (Old Kawayan and New Kawayan) in Tacloban City, Leyte Province, each attended by approximately 40 people (some 15 professional carpenters and 25 local people).

During the workshop, the participants first discussed and made presentations on different kinds of natural disasters the Philippines may experience, and on various ways and means in which each person can prepare for them.

They then received a lecture by a civil engineer on how to build disaster-resistant houses, and on appropriate usage of construction materials.  As an exercise, all of the participants also jointly constructed a miniature disaster-resistant house to practice what they have learnt during the lecture.

Construction of disaster-resistant communities will require not only the professional carpenters with adequate knowledge of building stronger houses, but also the local people themselves with the right knowledge on disaster prevention and mitigation. In this regard, the local women’s proactive participation in the workshop was impressive and encouraging.

The participants discussed and presented means to prevent and mitigate disasters. Shown in the left is Ms. Chiaki FURUKAWA (left) from AAR Japan Tokyo Headquarters.  (August 5th 2014, Old Kawayan, Tacloban City)
Professional carpenters and local people jointly built a miniature housing to practice what they learnt. (August 5th, 2014. Old Kawayan, Tacloban City)

Building safer houses with right techniques and new materials

From August 13th through 21st 2014, AAR Japan distributed building materials to a total of 267 households in the two wards, where the workshops were organized. At the distribution, mutual support among the neighboring beneficiaries was observed.

In addition, AAR Japan assisted establishing a “carpentry committee” in each of the two wards.  In order for the committees to build safer houses using the knowledge obtained at the workshops, AAR provided necessary construction tools and partial financial assistance. The committees’ carpenters are currently rebuilding houses in the two wards.

Construction materials were distributed to 121 households in Old Kawayan, Tacloban City. (August 13th, 2014)
The family shown in the photo below lost their home during the typhoon Yolanda, and now lives in an ad-hoc house made of salvaged materials.  The site of the house, however, is close to the sea in a area designated by the government as a No-Build Zone with the view of mitigating future disasters.  Having received the materials distributed by AAR Japan, the family will soon be able to move to a safer area, distant from the sea.
As the family lives near the sea and lost their boat because of the typhoon, the father cannot go fishing.  With the support of AAR Japan, the family can soon move to a safer area.  (August 27th, 2014)
 The Filipino language has a word “bayanihan”, meaning “to mutually help”.  The reporter of this article often recalled this word in the course of the training programs and distribution of the construction materials, as people frequently cooperated and jointly engaged in reconstruction efforts.  Many local people also voiced words of appreciation to the support from Japan.  As a staff member of AAR Japan, the reporter is glad to have been part of the assistance for the construction of  disaster-resistant communities.

Ryan Labicane, AAR Japan Philippines Office (profile as of the date of the article). Labicane is from Tacloban City in the Philippines.  As a local staff member of AAR Japan Philippines Office, he has been engaged in support activities of rehabilitation programs in the affected areas of typhoon Yolanda since January, 2014
Japanese-English translation by Mr Yukio Kiuchi
English editing by Mr Allan Richardz

The article on this page has been translated by volunteers as part of the AAR Volunteer Programme. Their generous contributions allow us to spread our activities and ideas globally, through an ever-growing selection of our reports from the field.