Statement of Unity for the Third Year Anniversary of Typhoon Yolanda

The National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) stands in unity with the survivors of Typhoon Yolanda in their continuing struggle to uplift their communities.

We cannot move forward without first addressing the existing conditions at the grassroots, particularly for disaster-stricken communities. NAPC commits to working with other agencies in monitoring the implementation of projects intended for Yolanda victims.

Review and completion of recovery and rehabilitation efforts

Three years after Yolanda, thousands are still in need of recovery aid. It is now imperative upon this administration to complete the rehabilitation efforts and ensure fast recovery of disaster victims.

The President himself has set the end of this year as the deadline for the completion of Yolanda shelters. He has also announced an additional P1 billion to aid in housing and livelihood initiatives.

Meanwhile, several government agencies have started to review their programs for Yolanda-affected communities. For instance, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has been conducting a comprehensive review of its programs and projects for Yolanda victims, such as the Emergency Shelter Assistance (ESA).

It is important that this review be directed towards an improved, fair, efficient, and transparent disaster response. This entails establishing accountability for misused and corrupted funds, and inefficient project management. 

We also need to look at the appropriateness and relevance of the projects for the affected communities. Some of the infrastructure-related projects fail to consider the conditions of the people. For example, several farm-to-market roads have been built when the farmers have no longer crops. Some relocation sites have also been chosen without due regard to the livelihood sources of the people.

While rehabilitated infrastructures facilitated recovery, the communities’ immediate needs have always been sources of livelihood and income-generating programs. Consultation with the people – the basic sectors – is, as always, paramount.

NAPC enjoins all concerned line agencies, local government units, and people’s organizations to work hand-in-hand to complete all the efforts towards the speedy recovery of Yolanda victims and mitigate the effects of future disasters.

Poverty and social vulnerability to disasters

The negative impacts of disasters are exacerbated by poverty. We see this in how difficult the recovery has been for poor regions devastated by Yolanda. These impoverished communities have the fewest resources to adapt, recover, and mitigate the risks of disasters.

The farmers and fisherfolk suffer more from disasters as they lose their sources of livelihood. Ultimately, poor socio-economic conditions have made people more vulnerable to disasters.  They dwell in “no-build zones” or disaster-prone areas because of these places’ accessibility to their livelihoods. At all cost, these vulnerable groups should be protected and considered in crafting disaster-risk reduction plans.

Poverty alleviation towards more resilient communities

The efforts towards recovery and rehabilitation should not stop after Yolanda. One important lesson taught by the impacts of disasters on poverty is to find ways on improving social protection systems in order to create resilient communities.

Preparing communities for future risks not only involves evacuation plans and disaster-preparedness trainings. It also requires capacity development by improving the socio-economic well-being of the people, in order for them to have more resources for reducing the risks and getting back on their feet after disasters. In the end, poverty alleviation creates more resilient communities.

The Yolanda survivors have suffered more than enough. NAPC enjoins government agencies and citizens alike to work together – not only to help Yolanda survivors, but to ensure that such a disaster never happens again.