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6 months after Yolanda, 52,000 Tacloban families still living in tents

Six months after super typhoon Yolanda leveled almost a third of Tacloban City to the ground, over 52,000 families are still living in tents and danger zones while its local officials are trying to scour for P3.358 billion to fund temporary and permanent shelters for them.

The Tacloban city government headed by Mayor Alfred Romualdez, with the help of urban planning and rehabilitation experts from the United Nations, has readied a Tacloban Recovery and Rehabilitation Master Plan that would keep the city’s significant pre-Yolanda role as  the regional economic and government hub of Region VII.

However, Romualdez admitted that not even half of the total funding requirement, which includes building new communities outside geohazard areas, is assured.

He noted that while various international humanitarian groups and local non-government organizations have volunteered to fund a large part of the housing requirements, there remains a huge gap of financing needed for the construction of permanent dwelling units and the site development that comes with it.

The local chief executive told a press conference that the city government will continue to seek out foreign donors and resort to borrowings under the allowable limits to execute the short-term and medium-term plan.

“We hope to finish everything within three years as we recover our local income.  It would also be nice if financial institutions can grant us a loan package that would give us a good interest rate or a grace period of three to four years,” said Romualdez.

Adelaida Cea of the UN Habitat presented the master plan which will necessitate strong cooperation among the national and local government, as well as the private sector and humanitarian organizations.

“Tacloban being a highly-urbanized city has a huge market of four million people. We will regain our role as Region VIII’s trading hub. A business center that can provide impetus to the re-emergence of Tacloban City as regional trading hub,” Romualdez explained.

“Tacloban City is resilient, vibrant and livable. It is also the center of culture, arts and education in Region VIII. Taclobanon are also highly-educated people,” Romualdez said.

The mayor said he is focusing on establishing housing in safer places for those who have been devastated by Yolanda especially the 4,270 families or approximately 30,000 people still living in so-called tent cities.

According to the city mayor, the economic and livelihood aspects of rehabilitation plan is focused on the construction to provide jobs for the displaced workers, trading, and agricultural diversifications under short-term scheme and industrial development, tourism, business process outsourcing, and economic infrastructure development in medium to long-term plan.

“The construction of 7,000 housing units in the North will serve as the catalyst. This may generate P300 to P500 million labor cost. This amount can boost the purchasing power of the families and create an impact on the economy,” Romualdez said.