Undelivered outputs, shallow outcomes and increasing vulnerability for typhoon survivors are proving that the Philippine government’s rehabilitation work in Yolanda-stricken areas is a tragedy. IBON said this in a presentation of its assessment of four years of rehabilitation, reconstruction and recovery in the typhoon-ravaged Eastern Visayas.
On the fourth-year of super typhoon Yolanda, IBON reported its findings on the status of calamity survivors in a media forum. Environmental and disaster response centers meanwhile provided insights on their work in hazard-prone provinces such as those affected by Yolanda.
“Region 8 or Eastern Visayas has an economy of contradictions,” IBON executive editor and research head Rosario Bella Guzman said. “Although the region posted the highest growth rate in terms of gross regional domestic product (GRDP) at 12.4% during 2016, there was an increase in informal work, stark landlessness, and acute poverty.”
According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), there was a 38.7% poverty incidence among the Eastern Visayas population in 2015. While the average unemployment rate of 5.0% in Eastern Visayas in 2013-2017 was lower than the national average of 6.3%, annual average underemployment rate – pertaining to poor quality work – was higher in the region than the national average at 27.16 percent. Landless farmers were at 53 percent.
Guzman also noted that government’s Build Back Better program facilitated full neoliberal or market-oriented reforms in the rehabilitation of Yolanda-stricken areas. “Declaring the shores as no dwelling zones (NDZ) mandated clearing so-called hazard areas of survivors’ homes and livelihood in favor of business structures such as hotels and resorts. Additionally, the land use policy favored conversion of agricultural lands to other uses,” said Guzman.
“This mode of rehabilitation has aggravated not only the surivors’ difficulty in recovery but also their vulnerability to disasters,” Guzman said. “The so-called rehabilitation projects in fact worsen the people’s diminishing access to resources, livelihoods, public utilities, and social services.”
Climate justice networks Center for Environmental Concerns (CEC), Citizens’ Disaster Response Center (CDRC), Climate Change Network for Community Initiatives (CCNCI) and Samahang Operasyon Sagip (SOS), whose representatives were the forum’s panelists, stressed on the urgency of a pro-people approach to disaster risk reduction.
IBON also disclosed its research findings at the Eastern Visayas Disaster Survivors’ Conference in Tacloban City days before the fourth year anniversary of typhoon Yolanda. ###