Yolanda recovery may take 3 to 5 years – CRS

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Two months after Typhoon Yolanda devastated Leyte, survivors continue to clear up debris in a coastal village of Sagkahan in Tacloban City. They are under the cash-for-work program initiated by Catholic Relief Services. (Rodne Galicha)

MANILA, Jan. 14, 2014— The recovery of areas ravaged by typhoon Yolanda in Samar and Leyte may take three to five years, an international aid agency said.

As affected communities are “returning to normal”, the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) said its relief effort has shifted from emergency assistance to “long-term recovery and stability programs”.

The agency committed to assist 100,000 families or 500,000 people with shelter, living supplies, water, sanitation, and livelihood.

“We will focus on Leyte and Samar islands, primarily in the areas of Palo, Tacloban, Ormoc and Eastern Samar. CRS has committed to raising $50 million (around P2.2 billion),” it said.

The CRS is the international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States.

Food aid declining

Though many survivors start rebuilding homes, the agency said that the need for durable building materials is “high” as some of them are only using what they have gathered from the rubble.

It said that removing thousands of fallen coconut tress is a major challenge given the heavy equipment required.

According to the agency, the distribution of food assistance is decreasing two months after the typhoon, pressuring the people to start earning an income.

Coconut farmers and fishermen have taken the biggest hit to their livelihoods. New coconut trees will take 5 to 7 years to mature and boats are costly to rebuild, the CRS said.

“More than one-third of the Philippines’ labor force depends on agriculture for income. With land and crops devastated, we plan to help people recover their agricultural and fishing assets,” it said.

Model homes 

To date, the CRS has provided 40,000 families or 200,000 people with emergency shelter, potable water and sanitation, and debris clearing.

The agency is also training carpenters to work with community members to build shelters and supplying them with essential carpentry tools including saws and hammers.

It also provided cash-for-work opportunities to people who work in clearing up the debris left by the typhoon in the roads and other public places.

“We will soon begin to support permanent housing solutions that use local materials, as well as corrugated iron sheets to construct similar A-fame homes of more durable, disaster-resistant materials,” the CRS said. (CBCPNews)

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