As the third anniversary of the typhoon Haiyan disaster approaches on 8 November, hundreds of thousands of people in the Philippines continue to live in areas the government has designated as “no dwelling zones”. The archipelago nation is regularly rocked by storms that are predicted to get stronger and more frequent due to climate change.
After Haiyan – one of the strongest tropical cyclones ever recorded, and one that destroyed more than a million homes and killed more than 6,000 people – the government promised to “build back better”. The strategy included relocating people away from coastal areas that are almost sure to be hit again. The plan has so far been a failure.
The then president Bignino Aquino III committed to building 205,000 homes to accommodate around one million people living in coastal danger zones. Only 25,000 have been completed. Only 2,500 are occupied. A one percent achievement.
Joyce Sierra, advocacy officer at Social Watch Philippines, said many survivors of Typhoon Haiyan – known locally as Yolanda – had to rebuild their lives with little or no assistance, which pushed them deeper into poverty. “They are even poorer and even more vulnerable now, even three years after Yolanda,” she told IRIN. Residents rebuilt their homes after the storm. They are shacks made from what could be found in the wreckage or was donated by charities – plywood, sacking, and corrugated iron. Some jut out into the sea, supported on stilts, and are connected to the land by single wooden boards.