Poorest survivors of Yolanda get cash aid but want jobs most of allBy Jennifer Allegado and Joey Gabieta |Inquirer Visayas
TANAUAN, Leyte, Philippines -– Two months after supertyphoon “Yolanda” (Haiyan) ravaged Eastern Visayas, the beneficiaries of “poorest of the poor” Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) who survived the typhoon are still unsure on how to start a new life without definite source of living.
“We’re very thankful for the assistance extended to us. The relief goods that we received helped us survive for the past two months after Yolanda. But the moment the help stops, we don’t know what to do,” said Fatima Villacorte, a mother of six, a 4Ps beneficiary and a resident of Barangay (village) Calogcog of Tanauan.
“What we need right now are jobs, livelihood support that can answer the other needs of our family. We need jobs so that we can move on and start anew,” Fatima told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Fatima lost her eldest daughter, 13-year-old Faith Sarah, to Yolanda.
“She drowned because the water was too high and she failed to climb the beam of the place where we evacuated. I almost lost my 8-month-old daughter. Fortunately, she was saved by someone who saw her floating on the water,” said Fatima, in tears.
The Villacorte family, whose house was destroyed by Yolanda, is now living in a temporary shelter along the same area built by her husband for her and their remaining five children.
Fatima’s family is a 4Ps beneficiary since August of 2013. Before Yolanda hit the Philippines, Fatima’s husband was a farm worker while she did laundry work. The cash assistance from the 4Ps program was a big help, especially for the needs of the children, she said.
“Our situation after the typhoon is very hard. My husband doesn’t have a job. I don’t have a job; we were just depending on the assistance we get from 4Ps,” she said.
Together with other ‘Pantawid Pamilya’ beneficiaries in their hometown, Fatima received on Wednesday her cash grant amounting to P2,800 covering two months.
“I will use this to buy notebooks and other school supplies for my children because the typhoon washed away their school things,” she said.
Fatima still hoped she and her husband would find jobs so that they would have a secure source of income for their family.
Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman said that a cash-for-work program of the Departments of Agriculture, Labor, and Social Welfare and Development – as well as international organizations like the World Food Programme (WFP)and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) – would be available to families in typhoon-affected areas for the first three months of this year.
The cash-for-work program would be the start of livelihood assistance, she added.
“We are already into implementing programs that will help the families and ensure that families affected by ‘Yolanda’ can already start a new life and have a much better life than what they had before the typhoon with the livelihood programs intended for them,” Soliman said in a visit here Tuesday.
Fatima was also among the 2,750 beneficiaries of the 4Ps who received another P2,600 in cash, representing two months financial assistance under the WFP cash grant program for Yolanda survivors, and 10 kilos of rice.
“The amount is on top of the regular cash grant they will be getting from DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development). WFP is giving the additional amount to beneficiaries to help them buy the food their family needs from their local market,” said Praveen Agrawal, WFP representative and country director.
The WFP has partnered with DSWD for the cash assistance to 4Ps beneficiaries.
Agrawal said WFP would partner with non-government organizations for the distribution of the cash grant to non-4Ps beneficiaries who were also affected by Yolanda.
The WFP targetted about 500,000 4Ps beneficiaries from the 60 municipalities in typhoon-hit areas in Leyte, Samar and Panay Island while the non-4Ps beneficiaries were estimated to reach 87,500.
In Eastern Visayas, there are 255,964 4Ps beneficiaries.
Agrawal disclosed that the distribution of the WFP cash grant started on Dec. 20 last year and so far, almost 50,000 people or 10,000 households have received the financial assistance.