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Response to Philippine Mudslide Gathers Pace

Habitat For Humanity Plans To Start Building Homes By April

MANILA, 16th March 2006 – Habitat for Humanity is rallying to help the villagers of Guinsaugon in Southern Leyte, the central Philippines, to rebuild their lives after a devastating mudslide swept through the village last month.

Habitat for Humanity Philippines has been invited to build a community of at least 100 homes for families, a figure that could be substantially increased.

A team from Habitat for Humanity Korea is to visit shortly to plan for a possible trip by volunteer builders.

And Habitat for Humanity fund-raisers are looking to raise at least US$500,000 for up to 300 building replacement homes.

According to Bert Jugo, chief executive officer of HFH Philippines, Habitat has already been allocated a part of a relocation site obtained by the local government. This allocation should be sufficient for building new homes for about 100 families left homeless by the 17th February mudslide.

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Brown scar: an aerial shot shows the extent of the February mudslide

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Volunteer friendly: a sample of Habitat’s easy-to-assemble metal frames that could be used for 100 homeless families

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BASECO example: metal-framed houses can be ready in as little as two weeks

“Development on the site will proceed soon and we hope to start our construction work in April,” said Jugo, who added that Habitat representatives recently met with provincial governor Rosette Lerias, who has overall responsibility, not only for the immediate rebuilding, but also for longer-term plans for the area.

Looking longer-term, he added: “There are many more displaced families still relying on temporary accommodation who need our help to start to rebuild their lives. We have already submitted a proposal to the provincial governor for hundreds of more permanent homes.”

“We may build these on our own or as part of wider community rebuilding schemes with corporate, government and non-governmental partner organizations.”

HFH Philippines is already working with the military and the Philippine National Police for a volunteer program partnership in the rebuilding efforts.

HFH Philippines has developed a proven volunteer-friendly technology to build permanent new row houses in as little as 15 days. The light-weight galvanized aluminum frames are riveted together and bolted to a slab of concrete, with sidings of fiber-cement boards and roofs of aluminum-zinc alloy-coated steel sheets. Houses can either be built in sets of two (“duplexes”) or in rows of eight.

The system has been successfully used by HFH Philippines to rebuild hundreds of homes destroyed by fire at the old BASECO shipyard in Manila.

After just two-hours of orientation, volunteers can erect the steel frames in half a day.

HFH Philippines has also developed a concrete interlocking blocks technology which is also volunteer friendly. The blocks are manufactured on site by home partners thereby also providing a livelihood as well materials for their homes. The blocks are load bearing thus the structure require less structural reinforcement.

The choice of which of the two technologies to employ in Guinsaugon will depend on the soil conditions.

An HFH Korea team is due in the Philippines next week prior to a bringing a 30-40 strong volunteer to build in southern Leyte in April.

The Philippines has long been the most popular destination for volunteers from South Korea. “Many of our early leaders participated in your volunteer program and returned home deeply moved by the good memories of your wonderful hospitality,” HFH Korea’s chairman Kun Mo Chung wrote in a letter to HFH Philippines after the mudslide. “It is very natural that in this difficult time we have to seek ways to help our brethren in the Philippines.”

Fund raisers from HFH Philippines along with their counterparts around Asia and the rest of the world are seeking some US$500,000 to support the rebuilding work, according to Daniel Tay, Habitat’s collaborative development manager. For further details on donations, please contact: Johnnyjasa@yahoo.com

Before the landslide of 17th February 2006, Guinsaugon had a population of about 2,500 people. About 45% of the village population was reported missing or presumed dead in the landslide. Official reports confirm 139 fatalities, with a further 980 missing and presumed dead. The missing includes 248 pupils and teachers trapped in a school engulfed by the mudslide.

Some 650 families involving more than 3,250 people are officially listed as displaced and will eventually need to be rehoused.

The village Guinsaugon itself is being declared a “sacred sanctuary” where no construction will be allowed.