Water shortage derails transfer of ‘Yolanda’ survivors to relocation sites

TACLOBAN CITY –- Nearly two years after super typhoon “Yolanda” struck this city, 1,639 houses have been constructed in relocation sites but only 470 are occupied due to the water supply problem.

Mayor Alfred Romualdez said the absence of a water system is the main reason why the local government is not keen on transferring families from danger zones to permanent houses.

“My target is to move families if there is potable water supply since it is a basic need. If there’s no water, we will not transfer these families,” Romualdez said.

The mayor said there are underground water sources in the northern villages, but it would be very costly to make it potable. “We need filtration and if we will not able to maintain this, people would get sick.”

Leonard Tedence Jopson, consultant of Tacloban City Housing and Community Development Office said the city government initially targeted moving 3,536 families this month, which requires a supply of at least 10,608 cubic meters of water in a month or 353.6 cubic meters daily.

“The city has only three water delivery tanks with a capacity to supply 75 cubic meters a day. That is the reason why we are not keen on moving families to resettlement sites,” Jopson said. A cubic meter of water is equivalent to 1,000 liters.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development and some non-government organizations will set up water tanks to supply daily needs of families, but Jopson branded this as a “band aid solution.”

Citing the United States Agency for International Development, establishing a water system project in relocation site needs at least PHP4 billion. The project involves setting up of 69 kilometers of main pipe from its source in Pastrana town. It will also benefit communities in nearby towns.

The Leyte Metropolitan Water District, which supplies water to more than 20,000 households in the city, said they are financially capable to carry out the proposal.

The city government is now seeking the intervention of the Local Water Utilities Authority and the private sector to finance the ambitious project.

The new relocation sites intended for more than 14,000 families in danger zones are located in Cabalawan, New Kawayan, San Isidro, Sto Nino, Camansihay, Salvacion and Tagpuro.

Of the 16,231 target permanent houses for construction, 1,639 have been completed as of end of September.

The National Housing Authority builds 14,062 of these houses and 2,169 units were funded by different non-government organizations.

At least 992 families are still in bunkhouses and 613 are in temporary shelters, according to the City Housing and Community Development Office. Philippine News Agency