Red Cross to implement ‘sweat equity’ program in building of shelters in relocation sites

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/05 January) — Public and private sectors are now focusing their efforts towards encouraging Sendong survivors to “own back their dignity” by rebuilding their lives through “sweat equity.”

“We are not a dole-out society and the patronage attitude towards rebuilding their lives will not help the flood survivors,” Philippine Red Cross-Crescent (PRC) chair Richard Gordon said in a press conference here Wednesday.

Gordon said Xavier University added another two hectares to its five-hectare property in Barangay Lumbia the Jesuit-run university’s Board of Trustees donated recently. He added this would mean an additional 400 shelter units could be built in the identified relocation site. The entire relocation site will be subdivided into 50-hectare lots.

“With a seven-hectare relocation site, we can now build 1,400 shelter units which means we can move more families out of the evacuation centers faster and earlier. We will start building the shelters two weeks from today,” he said.

Even though the houses and lots will be given to internally displaced persons (IDPs) for free, Gordon said they have arranged a “sweat equity” scheme where the family-beneficiaries will take part in the construction of the shelter units. Sweat equity participants, he added, will also automatically be enrolled in their “work for food program.”

“Kung hindi kayo kakayod, hindi kayo makakain (If you don’t work hard, you can’t have food),” he challenged Sendong survivors at the Macasandig evacuation center.

He said Xavier University will spearhead the screening process to determine qualifying family-beneficiary to prioritize only “those who are most vulnerable and who are really poor.” Each family-beneficiary, added Gordon, will also receive a seed fund to enable them start their own alternative livelihood.

“It will take around three months to finish constructing the basic structure of these shelter units and in six months all 1,400 units will be finished,” said Gordon adding that the delay will be because the GI sheet for the roofing of the units will be imported.

The PRC—in coordination with the Agencia Española de Cooperaciὀn Internacional para el Desarrollo (Aecid) of the Embassy of Spain—will provide the building materials, water and sanitation facilities and electricity. The semi-permanent shelter units, Gordon said, will be made of hollow blocks, cement, lumber, amakan walling and gauge 26 GI sheets for roofs. Each shelter unit can accommodate a family of five, he said and will cost about 72,000 to 80,000 pesos.

Norberto Gomez de Liaño, Aecid deputy coordinator general-Office of Technical Cooperation, said “they have earmarked € 200,000 for the semi-temporary housing of IDPs, as well as water and sanitation” in relocation sites.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) distributed 200 shelter repair kits to families whose houses were partially damaged in barangay Iponan, this city and 55 kits in barangay Santiago, Iligan city, Wednesday.

“The shelter materials will enable them to move to improved living conditions and help promote a sense of normalcy as they return to their way of life before the disaster struck,” IOM emergency program manager Dave Bercasio said.

“There is an urgent need to provide displaced families, who can return to their places that are not identified as permanent danger zones, with materials to repair their damage houses and promote the safe and voluntary return to their places,” he said. (Cong Corrales/MindaNews)