“IT TOOK only a few hours on 8 November, 2013 for typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) to obliterate towns and cities in the Visayas… drastically altering lives and reshaping thoughts about disasters and how these impact on the country’s preparedness capacity,” reads the prologue of “Y (It Happened),” a publication by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council released on the event’s first year anniversary. The 128-page report slightly touched on the initial achievements for the recovery and rehabilitation program. Four years on, another research work assessing the “build-back-better” goal for Yolanda-affected areas, this time by IBON Foundation, Inc., will be released today. IBON Foundation, in a statement released on Nov. 4, has hinted on its findings: “IBON noted how government’s response remained slow-paced and its policies even counterproductive in the calamity-damaged Visayas communities.” It said “only 16,846 housing units or only 30% have been completed out of 56,140 permanent houses targeted to be built in Yolanda-stricken areas in Eastern Visayas. Moreover, out of the completed units only 12,763 have been given to Yolanda-stricken families.” Rosario Bella J. Guzman, IBON executive editor and research head, said, “Major obstacles identified by the government were surmountable, if only government prioritized resettling the victims and rebuilding their lives and livelihoods.”

Meanwhile, People Surge, the biggest alliance of disaster survivors in Eastern Visayas, concluded yesterday a three-day conference aimed at gathering updated information on the local situation of survivors four years after Yolanda. People Surge said the collected data would be used “to produce a region-wide situationer on areas concerning poverty, food security and human rights in the region.” Various commemoration activities have started earlier this week and several others are lined up today in the different parts of the Visayas. In Metro Manila, the Philippine Misereor Partnership, Inc.’s Project Pagbangon will have an exhibit and series of lectures on Nov. 8-9 at the Ali Mall Activity Area. Local products of Yolanda-devastated communities will also be on sale.