Disaster-resilient evacuation center set up in Bolognan, Eastern Samar
Borongan, Eastern Samar — UN children’s agency Unicef and International Organization for Migration (IOM) joined partners and the local government of Borongan to inaugurate recently a disaster-resilient evacuation center.
Called Arayupan ha Borongan or Shelter of Borongan, the building has three key functions: as a social space for the community, a life-saving shelter during natural disasters and a temporary shelter to accommodate evacuees after an emergency.
“The Philippines is among the world’s most disaster-prone countries and most affected by climate change. With any disaster, children become the most vulnerable. This evacuation centre, built to withstand strong typhoons and earthquakes can play a big part in preparedness efforts, and become a safe space for children and families affected,” Unicef Representative Lotta Sylwander said at the inauguration ceremonies.
In 2015, Unicef and IOM embarked on an initiative to enhance the network of evacuation centers in Eastern Samar. The program integrates the design and construction of disaster resilient community buildings to reduce disaster risk and strengthen disaster preparedness in vulnerable communities.
Arayupan ha Borongan is designed to provide life-saving shelter for up to 350 persons during and after a natural disaster. The design reflects lessons learned from various disaster response. It maximizes natural light and ventilation to reduce the need for electric power which often fails during an emergency.
The design features strong sight-lines to minimize bullying and gender-based violence in crowded emergency situations, and incorporates ramps, handrails, and Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) facilities with improved access for children, elderly and people with disabilities (PWDs). The building includes space for the registration and information sharing needed during mass evacuations. It also has storage space for supplies, generators and fuel.
Based on lessons learned from the pilot building in the Municipality of Guiuan, the second building in Borongan has additional hand wash basins, bathing cubicles and laundry facilities. Children were also involved in making the building a community space.
Year 11 students from the Eastern Samar National Comprehensive High School participated in an art workshop that resulted in a mural themed “pintikasi” or bayanihan/community spirit. A children’s playground was constructed adjacent to the building and was made possible by the participation of community volunteers and in-kind donations from local business leaders.
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