TACLOBAN CITY – International development organization Oxfam has called on the national government to step up its assistance to local government units in carrying out relocation program for victims of super typhoon Yolanda.

In a briefing paper, Oxfam listed four major recommendations for the national government to fast track in moving displaced families from no dwelling zones to safe areas.
The first recommendation is the issuance of guidelines to local authorities on compensating land or house owners in no-build zones, tenure security in permanent relocation and selection criteria for recipients of permanent housing.

“The Philippine government should provide the necessary financial support through clear and transparent procedures, and backed up with strong accountability  measures – to local authorities to ensure they can complete the relocation process in line with international and national standards,” Oxfam stated. The group emphasized the need to fast track the identification of safe and unsafe zone and production of more detailed geo hazard maps by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau.

The government was also urged to enact laws on national land use policy “to institutionalize coherent land use planning.” The organization warned that delays in relocation would lead to worsening poverty incidence. “Decision makers should prioritize the suitability and sustainability of relocation processes, rather than to rush and risk wasting scarce resources and increasing the poverty of vulnerable groups,” the briefer added.

For local government units, major recommendations include delaying the transfer of families to permanent housing pending the scientific identification of safe dwelling zones, consult with affected communities to develop durable relocation plans, make livelihoods an integral part of relocation planning, ensure robust evacuation centers are available, and updating of local land use plans.

“Livelihood was cited by 49% of people surveyed as the most important criterion for the authorities to consider is site selection. Without effective livelihood opportunities in new areas, people relocated will either stay and poorer and more vulnerable to disasters, or leave,” the briefer explained.
Oxfam found that 81% of survivors were not aware of their rights on permanent relocation. Very few were clueless about relocation plans, and only 7% of respondents reported that they were consulted by a government official. (SARWELL Q.MENIANO)