Via The Washington Post: After typhoon, Philippines faces one of the most profound resettlement crises in decades. Click through for the full article and a video. Excerpt:
Typhoon Haiyan, which killed more than 6,000, proved to be so deadly not just because of its power, but because of what it picked up upon landfall. The storm splintered houses made of lumber and tin, and those splintered materials became spear-like weapons in the storm surge. Philippine government data show scores killed from puncture wounds and flying debris.
Some aid workers say it’s almost commendable that the shantytowns have so quickly sprouted again. It’s what they call “self-rescue,” which you need on a disaster of this scale — at least on an emergency basis.
But viewed up close, the process looks more like peril than relief. In the waterfront slum neighborhoods of devastated Tacloban, Leyte’s largest city, a few survivors are living on the second floor of a building that scarcely has a first floor left. One family is living in a home slanted like a ramp, debris wedged under one side. Rolando Bagro, 45, lives with his wife and four children inside the two concrete walls of their home that were left standing after the storm.
His new roof includes a blue tarp, some sheet metal and an umbrella. When it rains, he uses plastic jugs to catch the leaks. Because the second room of his family’s home was bulldozed to a stump by the storm, Bagro’s wife and children now sleep together in a single room on a piece of plywood the size of a child’s bed. Bagro sleeps on a 3-foot-long bench he found after the storm.
“Every day is tiring,” Bagro said with a faint smile as he showed his home to a guest. “Because look how I sleep.”
Bagro, like so many in Tacloban, is willing to reconstruct his family’s home. But he is stuck in a worrying cycle. He needs coconut lumber and nails so he can rebuild the second room. He needs the second room so everybody can again sleep soundly and feel normal. He needs normalcy so he can stop worrying about construction and look for regular work as a driver-for-hire, something he hasn’t had since the storm.
The concern for officials locally and in Manila is that these re-sprouting slum neighborhoods will turn into permanent solutions for survivors. The officials have drawn up vague plans to eventually relocate entire coastal neighborhoods further inland, where they will be less prone to disaster, but the idea faces many obstacles, and would require the government to buy land, change laws and convince residents — many of them fishermen — to move to areas where they’d have to find new jobs.
Even in the best-case scenario, residents will likely remain in the flimsy rebuilt homes for many months or several years, said James Shepherd-Barron, a consultant for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, who is coordinating shelter relief in the Philippines.
Meantime, it’s up to Manila and international aid groups to gradually deliver survivors better materials. Trained construction workers sent by NGOs will also tour the shanty areas, offering instructions about proper building techniques.
“Many [survivors] are not literate, so you’ve got to show them. You get amongst them, you give them drawings,” Shepherd-Barron said. “You tell them, If you build it this new way, your home will not fall down [during the next storm]. If you build it as your grandfather did, it will.”