March 28, 2022 – Residents of Barangay Poblacion, Mahaplag and Barangay Sto. Niño, Jaro, both situated in Leyte province, can now expect “safe spaces” for evacuation during natural calamities and disasters.

According to the recent inspection of the Regional Development Council VIII-Regional Project Monitoring Committee (RDC VIII-RPMC) on 25 March 2022, construction of Mahaplag’s and Jaro’s evacuation centers are approaching completion towards the second quarter of 2022. These were constructed upon the approved request of the concerned local government units (LGU).

The selection of project sites went through an intensive evaluation process with geohazard certification, meaning the evacuation centers are located in safe areas away from storm surges, flooding, and landslides. Moreover, the structures are expected to withstand strong typhoons with wind strength upto 340 kph and can accommodate around 200 families.

These one-storey evacuation centers follow a more inclusive standard design, equipped with gender-sensitive and barrier-free facilities such as separate toilets and bathrooms for males, females, and PWDs as well as breastfeeding room for mothers. Facilities and amenities also include a prayer room, kitchen, laundry/drying area, storage area, reception area, conjugal room, recreational area for children and adults, clinic, and admin office. Water and lighting fixtures are also constructed for the basic needs of the target beneficiaries. The said structures are estimated to cost PhP 36 million each.

These projects are envisioned to provide not just safety but also comfort for locals in times of calamities and disasters. The evacuation centers will also serve as venues for trainings, sports events, and meetings, among others.

Facing the Pacific Ocean, Leyte is a typhoon-prone province. Its Type IV climate is characterized by evenly distributed rainfall throughout the year with no definite dry season. This type of climate exacerbates the province’s exposure to natural hazards such as storm surges, floods, and landslides.

Article and Photos by: Josefina Ballesteros and Ana Rose Magdalaga, PMED