No more dancing houses

A dancing house. This is how many survivors of Typhoon Haiyan describe the substandard relocation houses that have been built. “If you shake them, they will move,” said one survivor.  Four years after the disaster, building infrastructure that is able to withstand extreme weather conditions better remains a challenge in the Philippines.

Rebuilding for greater resilience against disasters

Joy.  That is what 25-year old Crisanto Lacaba feels as he looks forward to the completion of San Ignacio Culion Ecoville at the end of this year.  Finally, he and a hundred others living on Culion island in Palawan, all survivors of Super Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda in the Philippines) in 2013, will be able to move into new homes built inland.

“My family can feel secure even when the typhoons come,” he said, remembering his family’s experience when Haiyan destroyed their home situated along the coast of Barangay Osmeña, along with almost 5,000 other homes.

Inspired by the experience of Tacloban

From December 17 to January 1, 25 Jesuit scholastics from across the Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific gathered in Tacloban City – one of the areas hardest hit by Super Typhoon Haiyan –to learn about disaster risk reduction and management, the theme of the 2015 Scholastics and Brothers Circle Workshop.  After talks, immersion and reflection, they each had to write a plan for disaster risk reduction and management in their own context.  Myanmar scholastic Paul Tu Ja SJ shares this reflection on his experience.

Scholastics learn how to plan for disasters

A more perfect learning environment would have been hard to find for the recent Scholastics and Brothers Circle meeting.  With Disaster Risk Reduction and Management for a theme, Tacloban – one of the areas hardest hit by Super Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda in the Philippines) in November 2013 – was the logical location.  During their workshop from December 18 and 30, the 25 Jesuit scholastics from across the Asia Pacific Conference were able to see with their own eyes the situation in Tacloban two years after the disaster.  They visited reconstructed sites, and met with local comm

Two years after Haiyan … a new life

A new life. That is how Lilia Advincula of Barangay Calvary Hill in Tacloban City described her community’s situation as they commemorated the second anniversary of Typhoon Yolanda (internationally known as Haiyan) on November 8. She remembers that even before Haiyan, many residents had been jobless with a stagnant quality of living. The coming of one of the strongest typhoons in recent memory made life even harder, but the surge of support that came after enabled them to rise.

The difference a boat can make

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Rommel Villanueva is one of the survivors of Typhoon Haiyan, known as Yolanda in the Philippines.  A fisherman in Barangay Binudac in the island of Culion, his boat was destroyed by Haiyan, which was one of the strongest tropical storms ever recorded.  With no boat, Rommel, 29, was dependent on other boat owners if he wanted to fish and provide for his wife and two young children.  For months he had to look for space on a boat every day in order to fish, and if no boat owner would take him, then he was not able to fish that day.

Building back after Typhoon Haiyan

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Three months after Typhoon Haiyan struck, thousands of people in the islands of Visayas continue to reel from the devastation it wreaked.  Debris from wrecked houses still litters the shores of many islands. Makeshift homes made of the same rubble have mushroomed amidst the chaos despite the numerous tents and bunks provided by both local and international aid.  Many people in the largely fishing and farming communities still cannot earn a living because they have not been able to replace the boats, crops and equipment destroyed by the typhoon.

The role of structure and infrastructure in disaster reduction

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There is now an awareness that after typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) hit central Philippines on November 8, infrastructure broke down, and not just roads and bridges, but also communication channels, power, water, transportation. Economic structures where subsistence co-exists with poverty also broke down, and there is now the immediate challenge for people to build livable structures as their housing. Structuring a whole response of sustainable cities and villages as a reality, beyond an architectural print-out, is the challenge the country faces.

Rebuilding after Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda)

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Three weeks after Typhoon Haiyan (“Yolanda” in the Philippines) wreaked widespread devastation on the Philippines, the survivors are slowly beginning to pick up the pieces.

The official death toll of 5,500 as of November 27 makes the typhoon the deadliest storm in the country’s history – and the number of dead is expected to increase.