Over one year has passed since 200 mph winds wreaked havoc on the coastal belt of East Samar in the Philippines. From the beginning, AMURT has worked in close collaboration with government authorities and the people themselves to play its part in rebuilding shattered lives.
Back to school
AMURT’s reconstruction teams, under the capable leadership of local civil engineers, have built 39 new classrooms and repaired 189 classrooms in 108 schools, making it an important implementing organization in East Samar. AMURT’s efficiency and excellence have attracted visits from high ranking officials. Both the president of the Philippines and the secretary general of education have visited our project to witness the achievements and offer their appreciation for the way AMURT prioritized the need to get children back to school.
AMURT has adopted the motto, popularized after the 2004 tsunami in Indonesia, of “building back better.” So, not only did AMURT rebuild and repair, but it upgraded entire school campuses, replacing all termite-infested wooden structures, for example, and even repainting the flagpoles.
In addition, AMURT has renovated or constructed 23 daycare centers, transforming dark and cramped facilities into cheerful, light-filled centers of learning.
Home sweet home
AMURT construction teams have been rebuilding individual homes in the barangays of Agnaya and Asgad. A total of 116 homes are being rebuilt and 59 homes are being repaired. 60% of the beneficiaries, selected through a lottery system, have started moving into these permanent structures that are built to resist powerful storms.
AMURT offered the beneficiaries design choices, to give their homes a personalized feel. Hence, people could opt for terraces, or bigger living spaces, or more windows. In this way AMURT accommodated individual needs, providing people with a sense control over rebuilding their lives.
This reconstruction project was made possible through the tireless endeavor of the mayor of Salcedo to secure suitable land for the houses. Many of the beneficiaries lived too close to the ocean, in what has now been declared a “no build zone,” and had no choice but to relocate.
AMURT has forged a highly productive relationship with the mayor and his team in what has become an exemplary private-public partnership. Right from the beginning, when AMURT was still mobilizing resources, the spirit of cooperation prevailed, with the mayor providing AMURT with vehicles and warehouse space.
Strengthening the base
An estimated 33 million coconut trees were destroyed, by Typhoon Yolanda, wiping out the livelihood of many already poor famers. Given that coconut trees take 6 – 9 years to grow to maturity, an alternative source of income is crucial. AMURT has been in a dialogue with the Department of Agriculture of Salcedo municipality, and the farmers themselves, to find alternative solutions.
AMURT rebuilt and improved the municipal demonstration farm, which serves as a source of seeds and organic fertilizers for local farmers (with the capacity to generate 20 tons of fertilizer each month). Moreover, the training facility built by AMURT will provide the farmers with new farming methods such as compost making and integrated pest management. AMURT sees the demonstration farm as a catalyst for sustainable agricultural development.
AMURT staff worked with local farmers to form 33 new farmers’ associations, and to unite all the associations into a farmers’ federation that serves 1900 farmers. The federation distributes essential farming inputs to the farmers, and purchases and markets their produce, thereby cutting out the middle men so more profits go to the farmers themselves. This was a crucial step as the Department of Agriculture will only fund farmers who organize themselves into a federation.
One Year Snapshot
59 repaired houses
116 newly constructed houses
19 new buildings
39 new classrooms
89 repaired/renovated buildings
189 repaired classrooms
DAY CARE CENTERS
18 repaired Kindergartens
5 newly constructed Kindergartens
142 hectare land cultivated
introduction of organic farming
municipal demonstration farm revived
construction of 2 farmers’ training center buildings
construction of 3 nursery buildings, structures for composting/vermi-culture
construction of labs, seed banks, storages
Child Friendly Spaces in 11 villages
trauma healing for 330 children and mothers