02 MAY 2014
The Philippines’ plan to relocate thousands of Haiyan survivors will fail unless government focuses on jobs too, warns Oxfam
Six months after Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines on 8 November 2013, up to 200,000 survivors are still at risk of worsening poverty because the government plans to relocate them without sufficient consideration as to how they will later earn a living.
Haiyan was the strongest cyclone ever recorded at landfall. It killed 8,000 people, and left four million people homeless. International development agency Oxfam has provided emergency relief in Leyte, Eastern Samar and Cebu provinces and has supported over 730,000 so far.
A new report released this week by Oxfam, “The Right Move? Ensuring durable relocation after Typhoon Haiyan”, says earning an income is the top priority for the typhoon survivors who are at risk of resettlement. Yet the government is planning to move 200,000 of them away from the coast, to protect them from future storms, without integrating job opportunities into its relocation plans. Fisherfolk, labourers and vendors are among the people most affected.
The findings are based on a survey Oxfam conducted with communities targeted for post-Haiyan relocation in Eastern Samar, Leyte, and Cebu provinces. Almost half (49 per cent) of the 453 people surveyed said earning an income through their current or a new job should be the most important consideration for relocation planning. The next greatest concern was safety, for 32 per cent of the people surveyed.
In some places relocation sites are up to 15 kilometres away from the people’s current homes. Several families in Leyte told Oxfam they had decided not to relocate because transport costs from their new homes back to the coast where they worked were too expensive. While many people are afraid to stay near the sea and worry about the safety of their families, they need to be able to earn money. The majority of the people were not consulted or informed about the relocation plans, and half said they did not know where they were moving to.
Justin Morgan, Oxfam’s country director in the Philippines, said: “Relocation is not only about houses. It’s also about jobs, safety and transport. The Philippines government needs to talk to the people to understand what their needs are. Previous disaster responses have shown that when people aren’t consulted, plans don’t match their needs and they will either leave the relocated areas or become poorer.”
Typhoon Haiyan has affected around 14 million people. It devastated the livelihoods of six million workers, as 33 million coconut trees were destroyed in Eastern Visayas, one million tons of crops lost, and 30,000 fishing boats damaged or destroyed.
Oxfam has been operating in the Philippines since 1978. It is responding to the Typhoon Haiyan disaster in Leyte, Eastern Samar and Cebu provinces. Oxfam has provided clean drinking water and sanitation products and facilities, as well as emergency assistance for food and shelter. It is also supporting poor families in making a living through cash-for-work initiatives such as debris and coconut tree clearing, rice seed distributions and fishing boat repairs and rebuilding.
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Oxfam is a worldwide development organisation that mobilises the power of people against poverty.
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