Rebuilding for a better urban future

The official blog of UN-Habitat's response to Typhoon Haiyan

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Roxas: Building skills to rebuild communities

Carpenters from Roxas learn practical and affordable measures in building back better, safer shelter constructions. Photo by Ilija Gubic

While the national and international assistance supports the relief by distributing shelter emergency kits, running emergency centres and setting up transitional shelters, the affected population rebuild their homes, in most cases, without sufficient funds, skills and experience.

Some families lack the resources to obtain good construction materials, and hardly have the means to engage skilled carpenters or masons to carry out the construction. Carpenters sometimes only have limited skills and are often lacking know-how and experience on disaster risk reduction requirements. Without proper guidance on practical and affordable safe construction, the self-recovery often turns towards building back worse.

In order to strengthen guidance on affordable and safer shelter, UN-Habitat in partnership with Social Housing Finance Corporation (SHFC), and Iloilo People’s Habitat Foundations Inc. (IPHF), conducted a 3-day workshop for 58 carpenters and masons from 32 communities in Roxas on “Practical and Affordable Disaster Risk Reduction Measures for Self-builders”.

The workshop introduced several technical options that could be applied on various types of shelters using different materials such as timber, bamboo, or industrialized products like concrete, hollow cement blocks, and CGI sheets.

Participants actively engaged in discussions, visual assessments of damaged houses in neighbouring communities and in the “hands-on” exercises supporting each other in learning how to use locally available and affordable materials such as bamboo.

At the end of the 3-day workshop, Mr. Dante Madello, Mayor of Panay, congratulated UN-Habitat and partners on this successfully conducted event, and requested UN-Habitat to further support carpenters and masons in Roxas on building back better and safer shelters.

See more photos from the workshop: photo gallery

Watch a video of the training workshop in action: on Youtube

Update: See a letter of appreciation from the Social Housing Finance Corporation to UN-Habitat


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A step towards recovery for Guiuan

Working Group during the Charette (c) UN-Habitat Lara De Castro

The municipality of Guiuan, assisted by UN-Habitat and UNDP, conducted its first major recovery and rehabilitation planning charette, paving the way for one of the hardest hit municipalities to chart its overall direction and specific strategies towards post-Haiyan development.

See related story: Guiuan: First struck by Typhoon Haiyan…

The charette was a blend of brainstorming, workshops, and technical inputs based on local knowledge and community action. More than 75 participants—from the local government, business sector, civil society, academia and people’s organizations—tackled four “key result areas” (KRAs) that were tagged as possible entry points towards rehabilitation and recovery. The KRAs, namely Social Development, Economy, Environment, and Infrastructure, stem from UN-Habitat’s Emergency Response-Recovery-Sustainable Development Continuum. The said framework was recently named by the Office of the Presidential Assistant on Recovery and Rehabilitation (OPARR) as the preferred approach in Haiyan-affected areas.

The charette participants laid out Guiuan’s pre- and post-disaster scenarios for each KRA, drawing from existing plans as well as post-disaster assessments. The context-setting exercise also built on previous activities that Guiuan and UN-Habitat jointly conducted, such as climate change and disaster risk vulnerability assessment, community action planning, and other technical inputs. It allowed the municipality to assess their present situation from the combined lens of land and water use, sectoral development, and existing and potential hazards.

Guiuan - limited self recovery adjacent to city hall (c) UN-Habitat, Bernhard Barth

Immediately after the charette, the stakeholders organized themselves into the Guiuan Recovery, Rehabilitation and Sustainable Development Group (GRRSDG). The GRRSDG works to align current Haiyan responses with the municipality’s recovery and rehabilitation goals and targets. It aims to direct resources towards the most rational and appropriate activities, both sectorally and spatially. The municipal government leads the GRRSDG, with the local chief executive, legislative council, and UN-Habitat acting as the steering committee.

The GRRSDG generally follows the institutional structure used in the mandated local planning process. This ensures a seamless transition from rehabilitation to regular planning and development at the local level. UN-Habitat continues to support the municipality through process facilitation and technical advice, under its joint programme with UNDP.


Second planning charette held for Tacloban’s recovery and rehabilitation Plan


The local government of Tacloban City with support from UN-Habitat and UNDP held a second planning charette to brainstorm and discuss strategies for the spatial development of Tacloban in order to address emergency, recovery, and long term rehabilitation needs. It was the second in a series of charettes (referring to an intense period of design of planning) intended to inform the formulation of the Tacloban Recovery and Rehabilitation Plan (TRRP) after Typhoon Haiyan. It was attended by roughly 50 representatives from the city government, national agencies, local and international humanitarian organizations operating in Tacloban, as well as urban planners and other technical professionals.

The results of the charette will serve as inputs to the development of spatial strategies and plans for key areas of the city. UN-Habitat has partnered with the Alliance for Safe and Sustainable Reconstruction (ASSURE), a local group of volunteer urban planners and other technical professionals, and ARCADIS, a leading global design and engineering firm (through SHELTER – the firm’s partnership programme with UN-Habitat), to provide technical assistance to the city in the development of these plans.

See related news article: Only 11 mayors submitted ‘Yolanda’ rehab plans–Lacson

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100 days after Typhoon Haiyan

100 days after Typhoon Haiyan, there’s been progress to celebrate, but still much more to be done.


During the first 100 days of the response Shelter Cluster partners have provided close to 500,000 households (2.5 million people) with emergency shelter assistance such as tents and tarpaulins. More than 55,000 households (285,000 people) have received tools, building and roofing materials that enables families to repair their own homes. 40,000 families have received cash with which they can buy building materials and pay labourers. In addition, 2,000 families (10,000 people) have received “core shelters” – these are complete, simple houses of approximately 20 m2 that can be extended by the families.

Despite these achievements, affected areas are still in a shelter emergency: on average, the Philippines is hit by 20 major storms per year. This year, survivors of Typhoon Haiyan have already faced two named storms which damaged and destroyed up to 30 per cent of emergency shelters in their paths. The Shelter Cluster anticipates that more emergency shelter materials will have to be replaced over the coming months.

The vast majority of people in need of shelter assistance don’t have a durable roofing solution yet and it is clear that many families will still be living under tarps, leaking and unstable roofs or in tents when the next typhoon season starts.

Shelter self-recovery is taking place at an impressive rate. However, many houses are being “built back worse” with the same vulnerabilities as before. To mitigate this, Shelter Cluster partners are providing the survivors with hands-on training and assistance to facilitate a progressive “build back safer” approach.


Read the full text here

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“The vast majority of people in need of shelter assistance don’t have a durable roofing solution yet and it is clear that many families will still be living under tarps, leaking and unstable roofs or in tents when the next typhoon season starts.” – Shelter Cluster

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Remembering Bohol

With much of the media focus on Typhoon Haiyan, we would like to remember those who are still living in the aftermath of the Bohol earthquake. 76,000 homes were damaged and destroyed, while 200,000 people are still living under tents and tarps nearly 3 months after the quake. The Shelter Cluster is still in need of 6.6 million USD to help address shelter needs in Bohol.





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DOWNLOAD: Desktop calendar for February – March 2014

Nearly 100 days after Typhoon Haiyan, UN-Habitat has launched a desktop calendar as a reminder that every day we are working towards building a better urban future.


Desktop calendar size: 1920 x 1200

Desktop calendar size: 1024 x 768

Select your screen size to open the calendar image. Right click on the image and select ‘Set as Desktop Item’ from the menu.