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Consolidating Consensus, Advancing People’s Struggles and Building Alternatives
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Tacloban, Philippines, Nov. 12, 2014 - With stories and experiences of survivors citing very slow recovery and reconstruction efforts, the first year anniversary of Yolanda has become an opportunity for the people to express not only discontent but to as-sert too a people-centered rehabilitation and recovery.
Survivors are asking: “Where have all the funds gone?” Decrying further marginalisa-tion as a result of the government’s Comprehensive Reconstruction and Recovery Program, they insist for answers: “Where could we permanently build our homes, as the tents and bunkhouses built by the government are simply unliveable? Where could we find jobs or start our livelihoods? Are health services available to us? How can we be better prepared for another disaster? How do we make our communities ready?
Development and Peace Canada in collaboration with Freedom from Debt Coalition, Focus on the Global South and CBCP-NASSA, together with the survivors, are organis-ing a Recovery Conference in Tacloban City, one of the worst hit areas, on November 12-14, 2014.
Where reports from the ground indicate the non-participation of survivors in the de-velopment of local reconstruction and recovery plans, and now with the recently signed (on Oct. 30, 2014) Comprehensive Reconstruction and Recovery Plan, farm-ers, small fishers, urban poor, women and indigenous peoples (IP) survivors, want their voices to be heard. What kind of future is in store for them, if they themselves were not part of the recovery plans, and are kept marginalised in the decision-making processes?
“Sadly, the ‘disaster capitalism’ that was witnessed in other countries is also a risk in the Philippines. Poor coastal communities that have lost everything are facing evictions to make way for tourism, shopping malls and industrial fishing, and this needs to be monitored,” says Jess Agustin, Programs Officer for the Philippines at Development and Peace.
“We demand for the government to fulfil its obligation in promoting and ensuring the welfare of its people, thus spearheading a people-centered, rights-based rehabilita-tion process. People, not corporations, should be the underlying inspiration in re-building the communities and local economies!,” asserts Samuel Gamboa, Secretary General of the Freedom from Debt Coalition.
Focus on the Global South, in the paper Preventing Disaster Capitalism: Why Climate Justice, Human Rights and People Participation are Key to Recovery that they are presenting in the conference, identifies three crucial issues at the heart of recovery and rehabilitation: land/land tenure or access to land resources and resettlement; absence of people’s participation and failures in governance; and the climate change context and climate justice perspective in disaster risk and reduction.
These questions that continue to haunt the survivors, apart from their losses in the year that passed, will be addressed in the conference entitled “A Year After Yolan-da: People’s Stories of Survival and Recovery Towards Building Resilient and Empow-ered Communities, and Global Solidarity” on November 12-14, 2014 in Tacloban City. To be attended by community leaders who are Yolanda survivors from all the affected provinces, will come face to face with representatives from concerned gov-ernment agencies, local government units and international and local Non-Government Organizations (INGOs).
As an initiative to forge cooperation and partnership between and among the survi-vor communities, the government, INGOs and NGOs see the conference as venue for sharing, and learning from the lessons of the past disasters (of the Southeast Asian Tsunami and the earthquake in Haiti). Guest speakers are the Office of the Presiden-tial Assistant on Rehabilitation and Recovery representative, Atty. Karen Jimeno, former Prime Minister of Haiti, Claudette Werleigh, and lead-architect in Aceh, Indo-nesia, Yuli Kusworo. The aim of the conference is to contribute to the “building back better” efforts of all stakeholders, and to make these efforts faster and safer.