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Houses for 1,000 families start to rise

/ 12:38 AM March 23, 2014

A leading member of United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction’s (UNISDR’s) global private sector partnership is giving new houses to 1,000 families displaced by Supertyphoon “Yolanda.”

In its website, UNISDR said SM Prime Holdings Inc., the country’s biggest mall operator, had started building its first SM Cares Village in Bogo City, northern Cebu province, and would  soon build more such communities in four areas in Leyte and Samar provinces.

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The new houses, 200 in each village, are designed to withstand storms as strong as Yolanda and quakes.

Each location has been cleared and certified safe by the government, and facilities, such as  community centers, basketball courts and street lights, are being provided.

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The houses will be given for free to beneficiaries who would be identified by local governments subject to further screening by  SM Foundation.

“A lot is expected from the private sector in the rehabilitation of calamity-stricken areas in the Philippines,” said Hans T. Sy, president of SM Prime Holdings Inc. and member UNISDR’s Private Sector Advisory Group.

“We, from the private sector, are more than willing to help and are already doing our share in helping the communities,” Sy said in a statement.

Investments on resilience

“The Philippines is prone to natural hazards, such as severe weather conditions and earthquakes. The more businesses invest in resilience, the sooner we can get back to normal after disasters,” he added.

In the same statement, UNISDR chief Margareta Wahlström said the SM housing initiative was a leading example of how more businesses in the Philippines were embracing an active role in the recovery after the devastation of Yolanda.

Officials of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) recently met with mayors and other local government representatives for consultation on postdisaster rehabilitation of communities devastated by Yolanda.

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In a recent forum, Assistant Social Welfare  Secretary Camilo Gudmalin said community participation was key to swift rehabilitation efforts following a disaster.

“If the citizens are our bosses, it doesn’t seem right that they should be left behind,” Gudmalin said at the forum.

‘Gargantuan work’

Gudmalin said there was a need to tighten coordination among citizens, local government units (LGUs) and national government agencies.

“The work is gargantuan, but the way to work around this is to create a stronger link between the government and the citizens,” he said.

Evelyn Macapobre, DSWD field office director, expounded on the critical role that LGUs play in postdisaster rehabilitation and development.

“LGUs, as basic providers, would like to remain relevant and respond to the needs of their constituents, particularly those affected by Yolanda,” she said, also at the forum. Cynthia Balana

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TAGS: Housing, supertyphoon, United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, Yolanda, Yolanda aid
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