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Building safer homes after the storm

Australia and IOM provide safe shelters for families affected by Typhoon Rai (Odette), preparing them for future calamities


Liza’s family in their new safe house

On the 16th of December 2021, Super typhoon Rai (Odette) brought heavy rains, landslides, and storm surges in the Philippines. One of the biggest typhoons to hit the country, Odette ravaged thousands of families in Southern Leyte and Caraga Region and has left thousands of them displaced.

Liza’s family is one of the many families in Barangay Mabini, Siargao Island, whose house was destroyed by the typhoon. “The typhoon came so suddenly, and we weren’t prepared. Our house, which was made of light materials, did not stand a chance and was totally damaged,” said Liza.

With her husband and daughter, they temporarily stayed in their relative’s house in the town of Mabini for a few months. “It was challenging to live in a house that was not ours, but we are thankful to our relatives because even when they were also affected by the typhoon, they still welcomed us to stay with them,” said Liza.

Meanwhile, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), in close coordination with the municipal local government of Pilar, Siargao Island, has been identifying the most vulnerable families in the community to be provided with shelter assistance. Among the most vulnerable families identified was Liza’s.

“One day, a representative from the local government told us that we are a beneficiary of a safe room resilient shelter,” said Liza.

Safe Room Resilient Shelters are dignified and durable typhoon-related shelters consisting of a “safe room” or panic room that can provide life-saving protection from extreme weather events. The Australian Government through the IOM have provided these shelters to families who are most affected by the typhoon to promote early recovery for communities. Australia through IOM have also provided capacity building support on disaster preparedness and management to increase the communities’ preparedness for future disasters and ability to bounce back from crises.

Liza and her family have been living in their safe shelter since March 2022. The safe room comes with a slab roofing designed to withstand strong typhoons. These safe shelters should be able to provide a safe place for families during typhoon season and can even accommodate neighbors who need shelter.

“The Safe Room is really good. We are very thankful to the Australian Government and IOM for giving us this shelter. Now, we don’t have to worry whenever typhoons come. We can feel safe and secure,” said Liza.

IOM continues to complete the construction of safe shelters for 95 families affected by Typhoon Rai in Surigao del Norte and Dinagat Islands. Throughout the project, IOM has also been working with the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) to maximize its advocacy efforts and strengthen the sustainability of the project beyond the implementation period. IOM is also coordinating with DHSUD in integrating the Safe Room project approach to the Philippine Government’s post-disaster shelter recovery policies and programming.

As part of Australia’s broad efforts to support a prosperous, stable and resilient Philippines, we work closely with humanitarian partners to save lives, alleviate suffering and protect the rights and dignity of Filipinos affected by disasters and emergencies, and help local communities prepare for and respond to the impacts of disasters and climate change.

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