One of the giant water collector jars distributed by donors to Yolanda victims of Molocaboc Island, Sagay City, Negros Occidental during the first anniversary of the super typhoon on November 8, 2014. Photo from Task Force Mapalad

Negros News – A year after Yolanda, Negrenses on Molocaboc Island rise up with better homes and better lives

Main Photo - One of the giant water collector jars distributed by donors to Yolanda victims of Molocaboc 
Island, Sagay City, Negros Occidental during the first anniversary of the super typhoon on November 8, 2014. Photo from Task Force Mapalad

NEGROS NEWS – One year on from Yolanda, a story of hope from Molocaboc Island, Negros Occidental. “Pangalawang bahay, pangalawang buhay [A second house, a second lease on life].”

This is how 31-year-old Marilou Marpa, a mother and resident of Molocaboc Island, summed up the blessings that she and her family received a year after they almost died from Yolanda’s wrath in poverty-stricken Molocaboc Island, a 428-hectare fishing village in Sagay.

Like Marilou’s family, hundreds of other families in Molocaboc, who were left homeless and impoverished by the super typhoon, are now full of optimism and ready to face the future with renewed confidence a year after Yolanda’s fury.

Hope began to rise in Molocaboc when typhoon victims started receiving humanitarian assistance from national peasant federation Task Force Mapalad (TFM) and its foreign partners, ICCO, ACT Alliance, and Kerk in Actie, two months after the residents were battered and bruised by Yolanda.

Marpa said her family initially received from the donors food rations such as 25 kilos of rice, noodles, beans, canned goods, dried fish, coffee, and milk. She said household utensils such as pots, pans, ladles, and spoons and forks were also donated to them by the groups.

The help did not just end in giving relief goods. Hundreds of houses in Molocaboc that were either washed away or totally damaged by Yolanda were replaced with disaster-resilient homes through the assistance of TFM-ICCO-ACT Alliance-Kerk in Actie. Last May, a total of 324 houses were turned over by the groups to fisher folk families in Molocaboc’s Sitio Diot and Sitio Matabas.

As Molocaboc residents rise from the ashes, they are now looking forward to building more sustainable livelihood opportunities and strengthening their community for it to be able to prevent hazards from becoming disasters.

“Hindi permanente ang relief goods. Ang kailangan namin sa ngayon ay livelihood programs dahil dito magkakaroon ng pagkakakitaan at matututo rin kami ng ibang bagay [We can’t permanently rely on relief goods. What we need now are livelihood programs that can make us earn and learn other skills],” said 56-year-old Yolanda Kawit, a mother of six.

TMN-Negros chapter president and farmer Alberto Jayme said that his group’s partnership with international donor agencies was a good start for Negrenses to rise from the rut of poverty and destruction caused by Yolanda. But Jayme said Negrenses would not fully become disaster-resilient without getting full support from the government.

“Disaster-resiliency means being better prepared to withstand and rapidly recover from disasters. It means saving lives and preserving livelihoods. We need adequate physical infrastructure, sustainable sources of income, and trainings to capacitate us to withstand the wrath of nature. These are the kinds of sustainable assistance that we need from the government to ensure that we will be resilient no matter how strong and destructive the next storms will be,” explained Jayme.

Also, Jayme urged the government, particularly the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to fast-track the distribution of lands and provision of support services to farmer-beneficiaries of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform, especially to those who were hardest hit by Yolanda and those living in other areas that are most vulnerable to disasters.

“Landless farmers are among the sectors most vulnerable to disasters. Even without being hit by a storm, they already suffer from lingering poverty and hunger. How much more if they are hit by a typhoon as strong as Yolanda? They will have no food to eat, no land to plant their crops, and no asset to help them recover,” said Jayme.

TFM, ICCO, ACT Alliance, and Kerk in Actie have decided to join and help Molocaboc residents in their next phase of challenge.

On November 8, 2014, the first anniversary of Yolanda, the groups announced that they would extend their human assistance to the people of Molocaboc to help them lead more sustainable lives and develop a community that is more resilient to extreme weather events like Yolanda.

At the Matabas Primary School, a groundbreaking ceremony was held for the construction of two units of multi-purpose centers and 10 communal toilets for residents of sitios Diot and Matabas.

Also, representatives from TFM, ICCO, ACT Alliance, and Kerk in Actie announced during the event that residents of the sitios would be provided with 176 giant water jars.

These household-level rainwater collector systems with a capacity of 3,000 liters per jar, are expected to meet the water demands of the community, provide the village with cost-effective solution for the collection and recycling of wastewater, and promote self-sustainability.

Moreover, the groups will build 24 additional shelters for residents of the two sitios and distribute 113 fishing gears.