02/14/2015, 00.00
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Filipino Church housing project for Typhoon Yolanda victims nearing completion

Fr Gariguez, executive secretary of CBCP-NASSA, said that 80 per cent of the work is done. The rest will be ready by the end of March. In all, 3,753 houses will be built. In addition to a roof, the Church will provide beneficiaries with the means to support themselves and their families. The aim is "integrated human development".

Manila (AsiaNews/CBCP) - The housing project planned by the Filipino Church for typhoon Yolanda survivors is "80 per cent completed," said Fr Edu Gariguez.

Speaking to Radio Veritas, the executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP)'s National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice, and Peace (NASSA)/Caritas Philippines, added that he was confident the project would be completed by the end of March.

The housing plans cover nine dioceses affected by the typhoon that hit the central Philippines on 8 November 2013, sowing death and destruction.

On the sidelines of a recent meeting in Cebu with representatives from the nine dioceses, the clergyman confirmed that CBCP-NASSA plans to build as many as 3,753 houses for survivors and their families.

Besides giving them a safe and decent shelter, the project has a concrete livelihood component, Fr Gariguez said. Survivors will in fact have the means to support themselves and their families.

Indeed, the plans laid out by the Church go beyond housing, and include the principle of "integrated human development" for the victims of natural disasters. This means providing them with security, spiritual training and community empowerment. And "The beauty of this is that the people get to participate; they themselves build the houses," the priest explained.

Overall, the Filipino Church has already committed about US$ 11 million in rehabilitation and assistance projects in favour of the more than two million people affected by the typhoon.

Haiyan/Yolanda hit the Visayas Islands on 8 November 2013. About 11 million people were affected in 574 towns and cities. The price tag for getting back to normal was estimated to be around US$ 8 billion.

The final death toll has estimated at more than 5,000 with at least 1,700 people still missing. Initial estimates had put the number of the dead at above 10,000; however, Filipino President Aquino tried to downplay that figure by saying that it was the result of an emotional reaction. In his estimate, the death toll was no higher than 2,500.

The country's size, its fragmentation and the difficulty of reaching some areas have been a serious obstacle to operations. Nevertheless, after the tragedy, the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) raised fund to help survivors.

During his January visit to the Philippines, Pope Francis visited the survivors in person.

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