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HFH Philippines To Rebuild Four Schools And 3,000 Homes For Typhoon Durian Survivors

NGO Partners Sought In Health And Sanitation, Livelihood And Savings Projects

MANILA, 6th February 2007: The year 2006 ended on a somber note for the Philippines which was battered by several typhoons during the past four months. Among the most destructive typhoons was Typhoon Durian (Reming) which hit the southern Bicol region in late November.

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Education at risk: one of the schools in Bicol region that was badly damaged by Typhoon Durian

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Destructive: remains of a house in Bicol region that was hit by giant boulders

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Aftermath: residents searching through the rubble in the Bicol region that was ravaged by Typhoon Durian

The category 4 typhoon - with maximum sustained winds of more than 200 km/h - caused the deaths of more than 700 people and destroyed over 200,000 houses.

But the new year brings hope. Even as many survivors are struggling to get back on their feet, Habitat for Humanity Philippines is set to help thousands of people in the badly affected southeastern provinces to rebuild their lives.

For a start, the Philippine Habitat Resource Center (HRC) will work with the HFH Bicol affiliate to start rebuilding four school rooms in the badly affected Sorsogon province, about 600 km. from the capital Manila. Groundbreaking for the school construction and rebuilding commenced this week. With more partnerships and funds available, Habitat may be able to build or repair up to 300 school rooms.

Repairing or rebuilding schools for the children to resume their education is a pressing need. The United Nations Children Fund estimates that the education of nearly one million children is at risk, for several months if not longer. The school rebuilding project will be funded mostly by Habitat’s corporate partner SC Johnson Philippines, a consumer products manufacturer, and possibly GMA Kapuso Foundation, a local non-profit charitable organization.

Later in the first quarter, the HRC will embark on a 3,000-house project in the municipalities of Daraga, Legaspi City, Santo Domingo and Guinobatan in the Albay province, and Camalig in Camarines Sur province. Of the 3,000 houses, about 2,000 will be new house constructions while the remaining will be repairs.

The row houses, each unit measuring 25 to 36 sq. m. in size, will be built using the steel frame or concrete interlocking brick technology. The cost-effective and volunteer-friendly steel frame technology will also be used to construct the school rooms.

The entire disaster response project in the Bicol region is US$3.7 million. The average house cost is approximately US$1,300.

Due to the nature of this project, the Habitat homepartners will not be required to pay for the houses, but they do have to contribute “sweat equity” or their own labor towards house construction. According to HFH Philippines, this not only reduces the construction costs but more importantly, it helps to restore dignity, build self-reliance and “bayanihan”, or a spirit of communal unity, among those who have suffered losses.

In the area of partnerships, HFH Philippines seeks to work with other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) such as World Vision, Compassion International and the Philippine National Red Cross in funding the house reconstruction and repair project.

Habitat will also join hands with local organizations, other NGOs and church groups in value formation, livelihood, health and sanitation projects as well as promoting the culture of saving.

“Our strategy in pursuing this project is to work with those organizations that have started doing relief work and have funds for building homes or schools,” said Alberto Jugo, president and CEO of HFH Philippines. “This helps us make commitments with local government units that have asked for our help and who have a say over the relocation areas and the land to build on. Without the funding, we are helpless in the face of the great need for our help.”