TACLOBAN CITY — The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has identified Tacloban City and 17 coastal towns in Eastern Visayas as model project areas for the “build back better” rehabilitation project.
Akira Inoue, JICA deputy project team leader, said the identified areas are vulnerable to rising seas and were severely damaged by typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) last year.
“There are three main things that we can do now — understand hazard correctly, get ready to evacuate properly and quickly, make appropriate mitigation measures for both structural and non-structural,” Mr. Inoue said in a seminar held in this city Tuesday afternoon.
Aside from Tacloban, the project areas are Palo, Tanauan, Tolosa, Dulag, Mayorga, Macarthur, Javier and Abuyog in Leyte; Basey and Marabut in Samar; and Lawaan, Balangiga, Giporlos, Quinapondan, Salcedo, Mercedes, and Guiuan in Eastern Samar.
The project, which runs until March next year, is composed of three stages — planning on recovery and reconstruction, building public facilities and provision of equipment, and implementation of livelihood recovery initiatives.
It is funded by a $46-million grant from the Japanese government for recovery and reconstruction programs affected by Yolanda.
Japanese technology will be used in the construction of eight elementary schools, repair of a hospital and four rural health units. The project also covers the reconstruction of two municipal buildings, rehabilitation of the power system, establishment of a fishery center, repair of town halls, and rehabilitation of Guiuan Meteorological Radar System.
The project will also provide equipment for the Tacloban Airport. The pilot system will be adopted to protect buildings from future storm surges and possible tsunamis.
The JICA official also stressed the need to develop hazard maps for all types of natural calamities — storm surges, strong winds, earthquakes, floods, tsunamis and landslides — for use in assessment, planning and land use zoning.
He blamed poor hazard mapping and inability of the people to understand hazard as one of the causes of typhoon deaths.
“People were told to leave danger zones. However, some did not understand the meaning of storm surge, hence they refused to leave their house. They thought their house was safe since they did not understand the hazard,” Mr. Inoue recalled.
JICA will also launch 15 quick impact projects (QIP) in the project areas next month.
“Through QIP, we will utilize the lessons learned and technology accumulated in Japan for rehabilitation and reconstruction, support the regeneration of livelihood and community, and strengthen the disaster resiliency of public and community facilities,” said Atsuhiko Yamamoto, acting general manager of Japan’s Oriental Consultants Company.
JICA’s “build back better” concept integrates disaster risk reduction investments in infrastructure and was implemented in areas hit by the earthquake in Haiti (2010), the great East Japan earthquake (2011), and the flood in Thailand (2011). — Sarwell Q. Meniano