Enlisting craftsmen from the beneficiary communities for UN-Habitat’s shelter support project helps inject income into the local economy and makes construction more expedient. Photos: UN-Habitat

Manila 25 September 2014— As part of capacity building component and campaign for sustainable self-recovery among the populations affected by Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda in the Philippines) which struck last November , UN-Habitat has just conducted a series of trainings on disaster-resilient shelter construction for craftsmen in Roxas City and the municipalities of Panay and Pontevedra in Capiz Province. The scale of the devastation spawned by Typhoon Haiyan left hundreds of thousands ill-equipped to rehabilitate their homes.

Many were forced to move on with only broken house remnants and an uncertain future marked by climatic threats. The Post-Yolanda Support for Safer Homes and Settlements Project, with financial support worth USD 2 billion from the Government of Japan, seeks to address the shelter needs of Haiyan-affected families in the communities of Capiz and Iloilo, particularly in the municipalities of Estancia, Panay, and Pontevedra and in Roxas City. One of the fundamental outputs of the project is the construction of 610 core houses for Haiyan-affected households.

Held at the district of Milibili, Roxas City, each training course ran for three days and consisted of lectures punctuated by practical exercises that effectively enabled the participants—carpenters and masons—to demonstrate their knowledge and skills. Following the module piloted in February 2014, the training covered the following: disaster risk reduction (DRR) concepts and mitigation measures; the use of timber, bamboo, and reinforced concrete; and the preparation of reinforced concrete. The participants—most of whom were accustomed to traditional construction methods—were also taught a critical yet often overlooked skill: reading structural plans.

Shelter and DRR expert Nikolaus Hartz led workshops that also became dialogues where trainees also shared knowledge acquired over years of construction work.

Leading the training was UN-Habitat Shelter and DRR Expert Nikolaus Hartz who was particularly impressed with the craftsmen’s enthusiasm and performance, especially during the exercises and written exams. Even more remarkable was how the students became teachers themselves as they also imparted the knowledge they acquired over the years in construction work.

 As an income-earning opportunity, the training came with daily allowances for the participants who were mostly heads of their respective households.