MANILA, Philippines - Some 200 scientists, engineers and experts from academe met last Wednesday to discuss science-based rebuilding strategies on the rehabilitation programs being undertaken in areas that Super Typhoon Yolanda had devastated.
Hosting the forum at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) in Makati were the office of the Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery (PARR) and the Oscar M. Lopez Center for Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Management Foundation Inc. (OML Center).
Breje van Wesenbeeck, an expert advisor on nature-based flood risk mitigation, discussed nature-based flood defenses.
Joseph D’Cruz, Asia-Pacific Environment advisor of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), represented the 35 UNDP energy and environment scientists comprising the UNDP’s Yolanda early recovery team.
The two foreign scientists provided the needed international perspective in building climate-resilient communities and ecosystems.
Presidential assistant for rehabilitation and recovery Secretary Panfilo Lacson said evidence-based research will help his agency’s efforts.
“I strongly believe that a complete rehabilitation and recovery process will require not only strong governance but solid scientific foundation,” he said.
Rodel Lasco, OML Center scientific director, said the strategies and solutions formulated at the forum and workshops will be used to shape a science-based and evidence-based rehabilitation framework for Yolanda-affected communities.
“It is crucial that we integrate disaster risk reduction and management and climate change adaptation in our rebuilding efforts and development goals towards a resilient community and sustainable resources,” he said.
Yolanda refugees to go home
More than 6,300 Yolanda refugees who had fled to Metro Manila have received government assistance to return home.
Speaking to The STAR, Alice Bonoan, Department of Social Welfare and Development National Capital Region field office director, said 1,338 families or 6,378 individuals have expressed intention to return home through the DSWD’s Balik sa Bayan program.
“Those who were assisted were the ones who signified their desire to go home, that’s why they were assisted,” she said.
The DSWD leads an inter-agency group offering a package of services to Yolanda survivors who have sought refuge in Metro Manila and nearby provinces.
Beneficiaries are given financial and transportation assistance and health services.
They also receive “pabaon” packs containing relief goods, blankets, and mats; shelter kits with construction materials and basic carpentry tools; starter kits, and a mobile phone.
Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman said the program aims to assist Yolanda survivors in their early recovery and reintegration into their communities.
Currently being processed for assistance are those temporarily housed in different facilities managed by the DSWD, local governments and non-government organizations.
Petilla: Power restored by March
Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla is eyeing the full restoration of electricity in Yolanda-hit provinces by March.
“By March, the target is 100 percent on the condition that houses are ready to be energized,” he said.
While power has been restored in city centers of Yolanda-hit provinces such as Leyte, not all residential areas have been energized because of problems specific to the different houses.
Petilla said some houses continue to have damaged lines, making it dangerous and difficult for cooperatives to energize.
“It’s just a matter of timing,” he said. “The cooperatives are contracting and they should be ready by March.”
By February, he is eyeing 80 percent restoration of electricity to residential areas.
Petilla has asked the Energy Development Corp., the Lopez-owned geothermal company, to fast-track the restoration of all units of its 650-megawatt Unified Leyte Power Plant. – With Rainier Allan Ronda, Evelyn Macairan, Michelle Zoleta