In its campaign for sustainable self-recovery among vulnerable populations that were affected by Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda in the Philippines), UN-Habitat has conducted a series of trainings on disaster-resilient shelter construction for craftsmen in Roxas City and the municipalities of Panay and Pontevedra in Capiz Province. The activity is part of the capacity-building component of the Post-Yolanda Support for Safer Homes and Settlements Project .
New Ball Game
Held at Barangay Milibili, Roxas City, each training course ran for three days and consisted of a string of lectures punctuated by practical exercises that effectively enabled the participants—carpenters and masons—to demonstrate their knowledge and skills. Following the module piloted in February 2014, the training covered the following: disaster risk reduction (DRR) concepts and mitigation measures; the use of timber, bamboo, and reinforced concrete; and the preparation of reinforced concrete works. The participants—most of whom were accustomed to traditional construction methods—were also taught a critical yet often overlooked skill: reading structural plans. What used to be rudimentary to the trainees became a seemingly whole new ball game as they performed exercises on mixing and applying concrete, and setting up reinforced concrete parts and concrete hollow block walls; however this time, they operate not only per experience but in theory as well. Much emphasis was given on the quality of workmanship and adherence to build-back-safer strategies.
Leading the training was UN-Habitat Shelter and DRR Expert Nikolaus Hartz who was particularly impressed with the craftsmen’s enthusiasm and performance, especially during the exercises and written exam. Even more remarkable was how the students became teachers themselves as they also imparted knowledge they acquired over the years in construction work. As an income-earning opportunity, the training came with daily allowances for the participants who were mostly heads of their respective households.
The scale of the devastation spawned by Yolanda left hundreds of thousands ill-equipped to rehabilitate their homes. Many were forced to move on with only the broken pieces of what used to be their house and the uncertainty of a future marked by climatic threats. The Post-Yolanda Support for Safer Homes and Settlements Project seeks to address the shelter needs of Yolanda-affected families in the Social Housing Finance Corporation communities of Capiz and Iloilo, particularly in the municipalities of Estancia, Panay, and Pontevedra and in Roxas City. With the technical assistance of UN-Habitat, the 610 corehouses to be constructed under the Japan-funded project will be the very handiwork of the trained artisans who are no doubt an empowering asset to their communities and society in general.