Livelihood, water still top concerns of ‘Yolanda’ survivors
By Sarwell Meniano
TACLOBAN CITY – Four years after Super Typhoon Yolanda ravaged this city, livelihood and water scarcity still bother thousands of survivors transferred to northern resettlement sites.
Rex Gabrinao, 38, who used to earn up to PHP1,000 daily from fishing before the killer typhoon struck, has been driving a tricycle in the northern part of the city these past two years, earning only PHP200 to PHP300 a day.
“Although my wife and I don’t have children, we have to survive our hand-to-mouth existence every day,” said Gabrinao, one of the recipients of the 33-sq. meter concrete house built by the National Housing Authority (NHA) in San Roque village.
Another housing recipient, Maria Cristina Emnas, 22, said her husband’s earning from fishing had drastically dropped due to high transportation costs.
“He has to spend PHP60 to PHP70 for fare daily to fish in San Jose from our new house. Before Yolanda struck, he just walked a few steps from our house to the shoreline,” Emnas shared.
Tacloban City Mayor Cristina G. Romualdez said the local government has been conducting livelihood training courses in partnership with national government agencies to help jobless and low-income families.
The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) confirmed on Monday that as of the first half of 2017, several projects under the livelihood cluster had not yet begun in Eastern Visayas.
In terms of transportation, the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas has provided six buses for the use of relocated families. The free ride for workers and students has been around for more than a year, but thousands have to take public transportation due to limited bus seats.
For Evangeline Sanchez, 40, another main concern is water supply.
Their family of six, she said, only gets an allocation of five jugs or about 10 liters daily for shower, toilet, laundry, and cooking. Their family buys drinking water at PHP30 per jug.
The family gets water from delivery trucks of the Department of Public Works and Highways, the city government, the Leyte Metropolitan Water District, and some private contractors.
“Five jugs daily are not enough for all of us. In days without water rations, we are forced to buy water from private water delivery services,” Sanchez added.
NEDA Regional Director Bonifacio Uy said that under the medium-term water supply project for Tacloban’s northern resettlement areas, water trucks would be awarded to Tacloban before the year ends. Bidding for the civil works component of the project was held last July 20.
Plans and approved budget contract for the long-term water supply project is still being finalized for presentation in the procurement conference.
“The schedule of the conference is still subject to the completion of all necessary documents,” Uy added.
Both projects are being implemented by the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA), a state-run corporation based in Quezon City. LWUA has no office in the provinces.
The government targets to move 14,000 families to the resettlement sites by next year, according to Romualdez.
As of end October, more than 9,000 families have already been transferred from danger zones to their new homes. (With reports from Ali Krause Gamana, Mikaela Angelica Ramirez & Christine Quimbo, OJTs/PNA)