An international development agency and its humanitarian response partners stressed the need to take urgent actions on climate change and poverty reduction as the country commemorated the 5th anniversary of Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) on November 8.
Oxfam in the Philippines Country Director Maria Rosario Felizco said Yolanda, which was the strongest typhoon to make landfall in recorded history, illustrated the Philippines’ high exposure to climate-change induced weather events.
“Yolanda forced us to rethink our strategies on development programming, which includes taking urgent actions on climate change—from disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation, to meeting the nationally-determined contributions to emissions reduction,” Felizco said.
Five years after Yolanda, the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement, the Center for Disaster Preparedness and the Visayas State University Regional Climate Change, Research and development Center, with support from Oxfam, continue to work in Yolanda-hit areas in Tacloban and Eastern Samar through a variety of programs.
These ongoing programs for Yolanda survivors include ensuring digital financial inclusion and literacy, ensuring access to water and other essential services, ensuring disaster preparedness at the community level, and strengthening women’s leadership and participation roles.
“The goal should be to make people less vulnerable from disasters and not just resettlement. We should really think long-term and address the underlying causes of poverty,” Felizco added.
To mark the Yolanda commemoration, celebrity and environmental advocate Antoinette Taus, whose family hails from Leyte, visited one of the relocation sites for Yolanda survivors in Tacloban, which is currently being supported by Oxfam and partners.
“It is a sad fact that what happened in Tacloban is a living example of how climate change will be affecting the rest of the world. And right now, it is the communities least responsible for climate change that are suffering its worst effects,” Taus said.
During her visit, Taus inspired Yolanda survivors to never lose hope, saying “pain can be turned into power.” She also showed her solidarity with them by singing and helping in household chores like laundry.
“Actually, the hardest part is really maintaining the rehabilitation and really ensuring that people are able to go back to a normal life. And right now after five years, we are still seeing a lot of basic needs not yet being met in Tacloban,” Taus said.
Based on the random survey conducted by the Coalition of Yolanda Survivors Association of Tacloban (CYSAT), at least 30-40% of the recipients of the 15,000 government housing units were not yet relocated.
The CYSAT assessment also found out that resettlement areas were built far from people’s sources of livelihood. Other issues which remain unresolved are the security tenure, and access to water, sanitation and transportation infrastructure.
Aside from visiting Tacloban, Antoinette Taus also joined a forum on the lessons learned by four municipalties in Eastern Samar, which were also hit by Yolanda.
inter-municipal forum was organized by the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement, Center for Disaster Preparedness and the Visayas State University Regional Climate Change, Research and Development Center with support from Oxfam.
Oxfam also supported the seminar workshop on research dissemination and policy recommendations for poverty alleviation in Yolanda-hit areas, which was led by the University of the Philippines Visayas Tacloban College.
During the said activity, Oxfam stressed the importance of “local humanitarian leadership,” empowering women, and recognizing the importance of unpaid care work, which include household chores.
Oxfam has been working in the Philippines for 30 years to address the underlying causes of poverty through its various programs on economic justice, conflict transformation, gender justice, and rights in crisis.
Yolanda response is Oxfam’s biggest humanitarian response in the Philippines to date reaching more than 800,000 people in Ormoc City, Tacloban City, Leyte, Eastern Samar and Cebu with emergency and long-term support.
Notes to editors:
advocate Antoinette Taus together with the representatives from the four Yolanda-hit municipalities in Eastern Samar, Oxfam, Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement, Center for Disaster Preparedness and the Visayas State University during the provincial-wide forum on lessons learned from Typhoon Yolanda.
April Abello-Bulanadi | Senior Officer for Media and Digital Influencing | Oxfam Philippines
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