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Habitat Responds Seeks Funds for First Phase response in the Philippines: Also Considers Vietnam Options

MANILA, 30th September 2009: Habitat for Humanity is seeking to raise US$2 million for the initial phase of an assistance program following the worst flooding in four decades to hit Metro Manila and the surrounding areas after Typhoon Ketsana struck the northern Philippines.

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After Typhoon Ketsana brought floodwaters in San Pedro Laguna, south of the Philippine capital Manila, a man has found a way of keeping himself and his motorcycle dry with an improvised raft. Reuters/John Javellana, courtesy www.alertnet.org

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The initial phase of Habitat’s response envisages repairing an estimated 10,000 damaged homes. It would also involve providing easy-to-erect steel-frame technology to create temporary toilets as well as providing water purifiers in at least ten evacuation centers in Metro Manila.

Habitat for Humanity Philippines is also mobilizing to provide soup kitchens in evacuation centers as food shortages are becoming a problem.

“The extent of the need is tremendous and Habitat staff are still visiting more districts both to assess what has happened with existing Habitat home owners as well as families who have seen their homes damaged or destroyed,” said Charlie Ayco, Habitat for Humanity’s Asia-Pacific director of program development.

Habitat for Humanity Philippines is focusing its efforts on Marikina, Pateros and Pasig, all parts of Metro Manila that were badly flooded when the Pasig River overflowed after the heavy rains brought in by the typhoon.

The repair program would target the poorest 30 percent of families. Most houses in Marikina, Pateros and Pasig, especially those in poorer communities and informal settlements, have suffered at least water damage.

HFH Philippines is exploring speeding up an existing project to relocate some 4,000 vulnerable low-income families living in informal settlements and slums along the banks of the Pasig River to safer sites in Calauan, Laguna, about one hour from Pasig. Work had already begun on re-housing the first 400 families before the flooding, but more families could now be moved sooner.

HFH Philippines is mobilizing two construction teams and plans to erect the first toilets and open the first soup kitchens by the weekend.

Friends of Habitat, including student volunteers from Rizal Technological University, and Hands On Manila are expected to assist with building and operating the soup kitchens.

At least 246 people were reported dead in landslides and other incidents sparked by the typhoon. Philippine president Gloria Arroyo declared a “state of calamity” encompassing most of Luzon Island. Nationwide, some 373,600 families totaling more than 2,250,000 people have been affected. An estimated 143,000 of the families (some 736,000 people) are either in or outside evacuation centers.

HFH Philippines is one of Habitat’s largest programs in the Asia-Pacific region. To date, Habitat has assisted some 27,000 families. HFH Philippines has been involved in a number of post-disaster reconstruction projects.

VIETNAM: Habitat for Humanity Vietnam is joining government and NGO partners in conducting a rapid shelter needs assessment towards the end of the week for those affected when Typhoon Ketsana came ashore in central Vietnam after causing major destruction in the Philippines. Official Vietnamese sources report more than 294,000 houses have been destroyed, damaged or flooded in eight coastal and central highlands provinces after the typhoon made landfall bringing torrential rains and winds of more than 150km per hour. The weakened the typhoon is still dangerous and has caused casualties in northern Cambodia and southern Laos.