Haiyan Mayors meet on resilience

Mayor Corro explains to the Governor of Cebu, Hilario Davide III, his search for a solution to relocate 4,000 families currently living in a designated No Build Zone.
 
By Andy McElroy

CEBU, 10 March 2014 – An inclusive recovery effort in the aftermath of the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines is providing a global example of how to build community resilience ahead of next year’s World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction.

The Governor of Cebu, Hilario Davide III, established the Resilience Taskforce – known as Paglig-on in local language – with an explicit mandate to engage local communities, the private sector and other sectors of the community as his province recovers from the November 2013 disaster.

At a roundtable with twelve towns represented by their mayors and councillors, Taskforce Coordinator, Baltz Tribunalo, summed up the main learnings from Typhoon Haiyan: “We now clearly recognise the importance of managing disaster risk rather than disasters.

“We also learnt that we can’t rely on outside help and that our own capacity, which saw evacuations from low-lying and coastal areas working well and saving lots of lives, is crucial. We need to further build disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation capacity and mainstream it into our development and the mayors are the big players.”

While progress and commitment remain strong, several mayors outlined how complex and challenging recovery is on the ground. They tabled major challenges around land title, whether to focus on quantity or quality of housing for homeless families, and the tendency of some international support to provide supply-driven rather than local demand-driven ‘solutions’.

Mayor Augusto Corro of the Municipality of Daanbantayan described how there were still up to 4,000 families living within 40 metres of the coast – areas that have been designated as a No Build Zone – in 15 of his 20 barangays (districts).

“How can I let these people remain in the No Build Zone yet I can only provide a viable alternative to 400 or so of these families?” Mayor Corro said.

“I understand why the families stay there as their current places provide access to utilities and facilities. Without providing the same elsewhere I really don’t know how I can relocate these people. I always try to look at the lessons learned and what are the things that are supposed to be done but this is a very big challenge for us,” he added.

The taskforce, established on 4 December, comprises experts from livelihoods, shelter, health and other areas and is aiming to steer a vision of redevelopment based on resilience to climate change and disaster risk.

The UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) is supporting the recovery effort in Cebu as well as the neighbouring provinces of Leyte and Samar. The partnership included hands-on mentoring at a Disaster Recovery Planning workshop in Cebu City run by UNISDR’s Global Education Training Institute (GETI), based in Incheon, South Korea.

The workshop coached 48 participants, including several members of the Resilience Taskforce, and focused on local recovery plans as well as drawing lessons from case studies around the world.

The World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction will be held in Sendai, Japan, in March 2015 with one of its main outcomes a post-2015 international framework that will drive a more inclusive and effective approach to building community and national resilience.

The list of towns and Mayors participating in the Cebu Resilience Task Force includes: Tabuelan, Hon. Rex Gerona; Medellin, Hon Ricardo Ramirez; Santa Fe - Hon Jose B. Esgana; Bantayan, Hon Ian Chris Escario; Tabogon, Hon. Zigfred Duterte; San Remegio, Hon Mariano Martinez; Madridejos, Hon Salvador de la Fuente; Daan Bantayan, Hon. Augusto Corro; Bogo, Hon Celestino Martinez, Jr.; Tuburan, Hon. Democrito M. Diamante; Puro, Camotes, Hon Luciano Rama; and Sogod, Hon Lissa Marie Durano-Estregan.
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