Super Typhoon Yolanda hit the shores of the Philippines in late 2013. Considered one of the most powerful tropical cyclones ever recorded, it left catastrophic damage in its wake when it dissipated. While some look back at that time only as a distant memory, there are still families living in the wreckage it left behind, haunted by the fear of the next typhoon to hit the country.

Some of the communities that felt the effects of Typhoon Yolanda were Barangays 69 and 70, fence line communities of the Tacloban Shell Terminal. Households in these barangays were severely affected, with the shoreline area of Barangay 70 being identified as unsafe for living.

Together with various like-minded organizations, the local government of Tacloban initiated relocation efforts that provide safer housing for the families  from the shoreline areas as well as improve their capacity for disaster resilience. As part of this, PSFI supported the construction of 146 houses for families from Barangay 70 in the relocation site provided by the local government, North Kawayan Ville.

Today, North Kawayan Ville is home to more than 1,400 families who have been relocated from high risk shoreline areas. Further relocation efforts are still ongoing, but PSFI is committed to seeing this project through.

Though the new settlement is an improvement from their previous living situation along the shoreline area, the question of the project’s sustainability still remains. North Kawayan Ville Residents have expressed problems that continue to be felt by the whole community.

To provide livelihood opportunities, PSFI conducted necessary interventions to promote entrepreneurship and employment. Livelihood profile assessments were done to make sure participants were selected for the right program. From this, 80 residents were chosen to receive technical vocational skill training and linked with job opportunities in the area. 150 residents were also chosen to go through Shell LiveWIRE’s entrepreneurial training, 75 of which have already accomplished as of posting.

Another issue determined was the overwhelmed educational facility. The Kapuso Village Integrated School currently accommodates over 2,000 students with only a limited number of teachers. In partnership with Teach for the Philippines, 3 additional teachers will be deployed to the school to stay for a 2-year period.

The community also has limited access to nutritious food and has no school vegetable garden, the latter being a requirement under the DepEd Gulayan sa Paaralan initiative. Addressing these, the East West Seed Foundation supported the installation of a vegetable garden in Kapuso Village Integrated School to meet the DepEd requirement and installed vegetable gardens for the surrounding communities. PSFI also launched the Gulayamanan project in partnership with East West Seed Foundation which supported 50 people with a 12-week vegetable production training.

The current waste management system in the community has also proven to be inefficient, with only one pick-up location for wastes, which was collected once on a weekly basis. As a response to this, an Eco-hub was established through Habitat for Humanity to address the community waste management problem while providing employment opportunities.

Lastly, a disaster risk reduction and management training in partnership with the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management team was carried out to ensure that residents are prepared to act in case of an untimely emergency.
With the residents now living inside their new homes in North Kawayan Ville, safe and full of hope, the shoreline lies empty in anticipation of whatever comes next. Together with the City Environment and Natural Resources Officer, this project also established a beach forest along the shoreline area of Barangay 70.

The beach forest protects the shoreline from risks and natural hazards like storm surges, contributes to carbon sequestering, and discourages the establishment of new houses along the high risk area.

The entire program lasted over three phases, with only a few plans left until its completion. The final phase of Yolanda Relief, Recovery, and Rehabilitation program might be imminent but the community, the stories, and the hope it inspired lives on. The future is clearing up and the sun is shining on North Kawayan Village. Finally, the calm after the storm is here.

Note: All photos featured were taken pre-pandemic

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