The European Union (EU) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) turned over two newly-constructed community evacuation centers (CECs) to the municipalities of Cabucgayan and Biliran, Province of Biliran on 31 May 2016. EU Ambassador Franz Jessen and UNDP Philippines Country Director Titon Mitra graced the event to personally hand over these facilities to the recipient LGUs.

These CECs are part of the eleven (11) evacuation centers that are being constructed by UNDP in Eastern Visayas under its Project Recovery. Guided by the build back better principle, these two-storey buildings are designed and built to withstand 300 kph wind velocity. These are solar-powered and built on elevated ground. In times of disaster it can accommodate at least 50 families. The evacuation centers are multi-purpose so that community activities may be conducted here.

Project Recovery, funded by EU in the amount of EUR 9.7 million (approximately PhP508 million), aims to complement the national government’s efforts in achieving sustainable recovery of the Typhoon Yolanda-affected areas in the Visayas and enabling these communities to be resilient to future calamities.

In his message, Ambassador Jessen said that the EU values its partnership with the Philippine government and UNDP in helping disaster-affected communities to get back on their feet and that EU remains committed to assisting the Philippines not just in response and recovery from disasters but also in the attainment of sustainable development. For the 2 new facilities turned over, he wished these will be used more for happy occasions than for evacuation.

Country Director Mitra, on the other hand, thanked EU for its generous assistance for the recovery of Eastern Visayas. He commended the LGUs, through the leadership of the mayors, for their cooperation and facilitation in realizing the plan of building CECs in their towns. He also thanked the LGUs for allocating lots, with open space, where the CECs now stand. He also advised that LGUs take disaster preparedness and contingency planning seriously and have community consciousness on disaster.

Cabucgayan Mayor Gemma Adobo expressed her gratitude to the EU and UNDP for choosing her town to be one of the areas of focus of Project Recovery. She thanked them in behalf of the people of Cabucgayan who benefited greatly from their assistance.

In the town of Biliran, Vice Mayor Angel Bacatano shared that the Biliranons now have a safe haven when disasters strike. He was thankful that foreign aid reached their town which enabled them to recover fast from the devastation wrought by Supertyphoon Yolanda.

Florinda Jill S. Uyvico, YPMO