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Category: Asia and Pacific

Why Community Participation Works: The Inclusive Housing Strategies of Humanitarian Organizations

Written by Ladylyn Lim Mangada.

In November 2013 Super typhoon Yolanda (international name Haiyan) displaced 4.1 million people. More than one million houses were destroyed. The economic damage was estimated to be 14.5 USD billion. Tacloban City, the largest urban center and hub of the Eastern Visayas region suffered catastrophic damage. 28,700 houses were totally damaged and 17,600 were partially damaged. Of those damaged houses, 90% were in low-lying coastal areas and were primarily occupied by informal settlers or the urban poor. The rebuilding of settlements in Tacloban has proven to be a protracted and contentious process. This short article argues that it has been essential for survivors to be involved in a transparent process of ‘building back better’ in the wake of Typhoon Yolanda.

Should we really be so afraid of a nuclear North Korea?

Written by Markus Bell and Marco Milani.

The common thinking is that North Korea’s nuclear programme poses a threat to global peace and diverts economic resources from an impoverished population. North Korean leaders are depicted in the Western media as a cabal of madmen who won’t be satisfied until Washington, Seoul, or some other enemy city is turned into a “sea of fire”.

Successive US governments have used a range of carrots and sticks to entice or pressure the North Korean leadership to give up its nuclear programme. The North’s missile launches and nuclear tests in 2016 make plain that these efforts have failed; in short, the West has to accept that it is now a nuclear power and focus instead on limiting the risks a nuclear North Korea presents.

It’s Not Just About Building and Providing Houses: Building Resilient and Secure Communities in Resettlement Areas

Written by Maria Ela L. Atienza.

Over three years ago super typhoon Haiyan (local name Yolanda) devastated Visayan provinces in the Philippines. The provision of permanent housing and resettlement for victims who lost their homes in the so-called “no build zones” or risky coastal areas remains a problem. In early November this year, Philippine Senator Risa Hontiveros sought a legislative inquiry into governmental action regarding health and sanitation issues in resettlement areas. On the third anniversary of Yolanda last November 8, 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte promised Tacloban that the backlog will be met and gave a deadline to the National Housing Authority (NHA) to finish all housing projects this December. Early this December, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said that the administration has successfully relocated 827 of 911 Yolanda families to their new homes.   

Gendered Livelihoods – recovery for women three years after Typhoon Yolanda

Written by May Tan-Mullins.

On 8 November 2013 super-typhoon Yolanda (international name Haiyan) hit the Visayas region of the Philippines. More than 6,300 lives were lost and homes, livelihoods and communities were devastated. It has been three years since the typhoon hit and recovery, housing and livelihood options remain a major challenge in the region. In particular, livelihood options continue to be a major concern, especially for the women. This is because many of the livelihood programmes put in place by the governments, international organisations and Non-governmental organisations are very much gender-biased towards men. Very few options or programmes are targeted at women or women’s groups. Indeed, as Oxfam notes, gender inequalities persist and may be even magnified during disasters, especially in the rebuilding phase.

India’s crackdown on cash corruption is really all about politics

Written by Diego Maiorano

When India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, announced that 86% of his country’s currency would be “just worthless pieces of paper” in a matter of hours, he immediately boosted his reputation as the scourge of tax-evaders and the corrupt. Unfortunately for everyday Indians, the hassle of adapting to the sudden change is bigger than many expected.

The policy demonetises 500 and 1,000 rupee notes, which Indians are now expected to change at banks and ATMs. This is an attack on what Indians call “black money”, cash that has been concealed from the tax authorities and/or used for criminal activity; it’s also meant to curb the spread of counterfeit currency. But it’s unlikely to achieve much – and ultimately, it’s at least as much a political move as it is an economic one.

Reproductive Health and Post-Disaster Baby Booms

Written by: Ladylyn Lim Mangada

 When Super Typhoon Haiyan (local name Yolanda) devastated Eastern Visayas in November 2013, pictures of death, displacement and massive damage to infrastructure and housing shocked the world.  However, behind the grief and anger over the disorganized distribution of emergency assistance was a celebration of life, particularly new lives.  The areas struck by Haiyan experienced a baby boom. The catastrophic typhoon did not delay or forego the reproductive motivations of the survivors. Haiyan took away lives but it also brought new lives.

Post-typhoon Haiyan: Housing and Water Problems in Resettlement Areas

Written by Jan Robert R. Go.

Two years and ten months since typhoon Yolanda, the effects on the lives of the survivors are still felt. Families are still in search of stable livelihood and decent resettlement. The government has not yet addressed the major concerns of the survivors and their families. Problems on land for relocation, clean water, and drainage and sewer systems, among others, remain. With a new administration, there is a new hope that these concerns will be given attention and eventually resolved.

On 8 September 2016, the Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development Foundation, Inc. (PLCPD) and Oxfam Philippines held a press conference ‘Resettling Communities, Unsettling Realities,’ which focused on the alarming situation of resettlement in Tacloban City, a typhoon Haiyan-affect area. The panel of guests includes representatives from the Council of Yolanda Survivors Association of Tacloban (CYSAT), Philippine Network of Rural Development Institutes (PhilNet-RDI), Tacloban City Community Affairs Office, PLCPD, and Oxfam. In the press conference, two major concerns were highlighted by the panellists: (1) the quality of housing facility provided by the National Housing Authority (NHA), and (2) the demand for safe and clean water for the communities.

Philippines’ lightning-rod president Duterte charts a surprising course

Written by Pauline Eadie.

The Philippines’ highly controversial president, Rodrigo Roa Duterte, has delivered his first State of the Nation address – and what a spectacle it turned out to be.

It was scheduled to last 38 minutes, but went on for 140. Its tone oscillated between a formal presidential address and free-spirited informality; the hashtag for it, #SONA2016, was trending worldwide for hours after it finished.

As Duterte went on, he visibly relaxed and increasingly wandered off-script with his comments. At times he stumbled over words – but this only added to the impression that he was speaking from the heart. Duterte used the speech to address many of the criticisms against him, particularly his relationship with the rule of law and human rights.

Why China won’t back off the South China Sea – whatever the world might say

Written by Jing Cheng.

A much-anticipated ruling on the South China Sea dispute initiated against China by the Philippines finally came down – and unsurprisingly, the Hague-based international tribunal that judged it ruled in favour of the Philippines, rejecting China’s claims of historical rights to the sea’s resources.

The Philippines welcomed the ruling, and celebrated it as a devastating legal blow to China’s claims in the contested waters. Filipinos coined a new word, “Chexit”, inspired by the term Brexit, to symbolise that China is out of the South China Sea.

The reaction from China was furious. Its Ministry of Foreign Affairs immediately declaredthat “the award is null and has no binding force”, and that China “neither accepts nor recognises it”. Xinhua, the state news agency, said the tribunal was “law-abusing” and its award “ill-founded”. Meanwhile Beijing released a white paper reiterating its claims to the South China Sea and adhering to the position that the dispute should be settled through negotiations.

New Administration, New Future: Reducing Disaster and Risk in the Philippines

Written by Maria Ela L. Atienza

When Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte officially assumed office last week, disaster preparedness was the one of the issues he addressed during the first official Cabinet meeting of his administration. The President talked about his experience when he brought a rescue team from Davao to Tacloban in the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda in 2013. Based on this experience, the President cited the need to pre-position equipment in disaster-prone areas to enable the government to provide aid to affected residents.

This development is a promising sign that the new administration will look closely into improving disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) in a country that is prone to natural and human-made disasters. The new government will definitely consult experts and practitioners in the field of DRRM to improve the existing framework and to prevent high loss of lives and property and minimize vulnerabilities of people and communities in future calamities. These experts and practitioners will probably advise the administration to focus not just on relief and rehabilitation but more importantly, on disaster risk reduction. However, the Duterte administration could also spend some time listening to what young people think about DRRM and other issues facing the country. After all, the Philippines has a large young population. The overall youth literacy rate is about 97% and the country’s median age is 24.4 years.