After Philippines typhoon, clean-up brings recovery

man builds with salvaged lumber
Using salvaged lumber and other recycled debris from Typhoon Bopha, a villager in the Philippines' Compostela Valley participates in a UNDP programme to rebuild communities while bringing much-needed income. (Photo: RV Mitra/UNDP Philippines)

Julius Enriquez sifts through a mountain of rubble, picking out usable wood and other materials in the grounds of what used to be Cateel Central Elementary School, in Mindanao, The Philippines.

“These wood scraps can be used to rebuild the damaged school where my child used to go,” he says.

Highlights

  • 1,932 families are employed in the clean-up following Typhoon Bopha, with more to be employed in coming months.
  • The programme has a budget of US $1.8 million.
  • In the storm, 1,146 were reported dead and 834 missing, and nearly 200,000 homes were totally or partially damaged.

The school he is working in was flattened by Typhoon Bopha, which struck the country in early December last year. Enriquez is one of dozens of villagers in Cateel and one of nearly 2,000 people working in shifts across the southern provinces of Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley through a UNDP cash-for-work scheme. Together, they will help rebuild important infrastructure destroyed by the storm.

Typhoon Bopha affected a total of 6.2 million people, displacing over 850,000, and killed 1,146, with 834 people still unaccounted for. It also destroyed roads, bridges, markets and schools, damaged nearly 200,000 homes and destroyed approximately US$ 250 million worth of crops.

To alleviate the long-term impact that the disaster will have on development across the country, UNDP is providing tools, protective clothing, mechanized diggers and other supplies to temporary workers, paying them to clear important community infrastructure.

Many people lost homes, jobs and businesses from the storm. As well as providing these victims of Bopha with a temporary income, UNDP is also helping to return devastated communities back to normal. In the case of Cateel, the debris collected through clean-up activities is used to repair desks, chairs and other facilities. In Cateel municipality alone, 24 schools have been restored and cleared of debris through UNDP’s support.

“UNDP’s assistance in debris clearing was vital as classes were able to resume and normalcy in the educational calendar has returned,” says Isidro Castro, vice-mayor of the municipality. “These activities also fostered closer interaction among families who are striving together to heal and recover from their loss.”

In other communities, efforts are focusing on fixing or clearing other damaged infrastructure, such as roads, bridges, markets and waterways.  In nearby Boston municipality, where UNDP has also worked with local leaders to mobilize the villagers for post-typhoon clean-up, the story is the same.

“This initiative not only removed the hazardous debris in our surroundings but it also gave a source of livelihood to my constituents,” relates the vice-mayor.

“The UN has responded to government’s request to rapidly deploy an early recovery programme,” says Luiza Carvalho, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in the Philippines, who visited the devastated areas recently. “We have moved quickly in places where mud, rock, fallen trees and boulders blocked roads, especially in remote communities.”

To date, UNDP has been able to provide an emergency source of income to 1,932 families like that of Enriquez through the clean-up campaign, which is directly managed by local government units. More families will be involved in the coming months.

“The loss of high-value crops such as banana has left many families without an income source for a time,” says Carvalho. “Our emergency employment assistance focuses on providing the homeless farmers and unregulated workers who lost their livelihoods to the flood with a social safety net.”

Bopha, one of the strongest storms on record to make landfall in the Philippines, caused massive landslides and overwhelmed many flood defence mechanisms when it struck on 4 December 2012, battering the country for three days.

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UNDP's Cash-for-Work Programme

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