Typhoon survivors, local government officials and advocates decried the lack of water and sanitation in resettlement sites for more than 14,000 families displaced by Super Typhoon “Yolanda” about three years ago.
In a press conference in Quezon City, the survivors said that despite concerted efforts by the government, civil society and international organizations, significant challenges remain in the recovery and rehabilitation of the affected communities.
In Tacloban City, some 14,433 or 40 percent of the affected families were chosen for relocation by the national and local governments to the northern barangays. Up to now, only 13 percent of the internally displaced persons have been moved.
Meanwhile, families who were relocated suffer scarcity of water, the lack of waste water-treatment facilities, inadequate livelihood opportunities and unclear information on tenurial security.
“Until now, those of us who have resettled in Northern Tacloban still do not have potable water. The city government provides some through water trucks twice a week but it is not enough,” lamented Algina Lacaba, secretary of the Coalition of Yolanda Survivors Association of Tacloban.
According to the city government of Tacloban, water scarcity has been a problem even before Yolanda.
“For northern Tacloban, the problem is that there is no viable source of ground water in most of the areas. At the same time, the Leyte Metropolitan Water District [LMWD] has imposed a one-subdivision, one-meter policy, which effectively deprives northern Tacloban of water supply,” said Community Affairs Officer IV Tedence Japson.
Philippine Network of Rural Development Institutes operations manager Emynita Tapiru explained that the lack of water has resulted in problems of malnutrition and poverty, inability of children to go to school, and conflicts within families.
“Many families are forced to buy water elsewhere. This diminishes their capacity to buy food. Children cannot go to school because they are asked by their parents to fetch water when it is distributed.”
Lacaba recounted that “whenever it rains, the area outside our houses gets flooded. This causes the water to spill from our toilet bowls. The foul smell from the toilet bowls also comes out of our kitchen sinks. We’re afraid that we’ll all get sick soon if this is not addressed.”
CYSAT and PhilNet-RDI called on the National Housing Authority (NHA) and its developers to improve the septic tanks in every household and to separate the storm drainage from the sewer lines. They recommended the installation of secondary wastewater treatment facilities and the use of standard or stronger materials be used in the construction of houses.
At the same time the LGU of Tacloban City urged the national government and the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) to facilitate the provision of water for the Yolanda survivors. In particular, they requested the immediate release of the remaining funds of the approved P527-million budget to put up the water system in northern Tacloban. Lastly, they proposed the allocation of P116.6 million for the building of a centralized sewage system for the city.