Typhoon Haiyan survivors get housing aid after 21 months

Typhoon Haiyan survivors get housing aid after 21 months
Survivors of Super Typhoon Haiyan queueing to collect food supplies on a highway towards the airport in Tacloban city, located in the Leyte province of the Philippines.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

TACLOBAN CITY - The national government's housing aid to survivors of Supertyphoon "Yolanda" (international name: Haiyan) came close to two years after the storm devastated this city, but some will not be utilizing the amount for its intended purpose.

Elena Nalda, a resident of Barangay 90, received P30,000 (S$904) in emergency shelter assistance (ESA) from the government through the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) on Monday. Her house, made of light materials, was destroyed during the typhoon's onslaught on Nov. 8, 2013.

However, Nalda, 58, would not use the money to repair her house but spend a big part of it for the medical needs of her sickly husband, Premitivo, 58, who has been coughing blood for weeks. They have seven children.

"We don't know yet his ailment. We had no money to go to a doctor. But with the ESA that we have just received, we could now go to a doctor and have him checked up," she said.

Tacloban received P500 million intended for the 17,400 families whose houses were destroyed during the typhoon. Another P217 million was given by the DSWD to the city government for over 25,000 families whose houses were damaged. They received P10, 000 each.

Another beneficiary, Marilyn Castor, 40, a resident of Barangay 103, said she would open a "sari-sari" store business and buy at least two piglets which she would sell later. "We also saved P10,000 for emergency purposes," said Castor, a mother of three children.

She said their house was already repaired from the P15,000 given earlier by the Tzu Chi Foundation, a Buddhist humanitarian group which distributed P8,000 to P15,000 as financial assistance to survivors, depending on their number of children.

Dr. Gloria Fabregas, city social welfare and development officer, said that while the purpose of the ESA appeared to had been violated by the beneficiaries, her office would just practice tolerance.

"It's understandable. After all, it's close to two years now after Haiyan. But the ESA could not just mean repair of the entire house; it could be used, for example, to repair a comfort room," Fabregas said.

She said the ESA distribution would be completed in two weeks.


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