PMPI and the local government of Guiuan, Eastern Samar signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) earlier today for the rehabilitation of Homonhon and Manicani Islands that were devastated by Typhoon Yolanda last November 2013.
The signing, which was made between PMPI through its National Coordinator, Yoly Esguerra and the local government unit headed by Mayor Christopher “Sheen” Gonzalez with project participating PMPI partner organizations and key local agencies as witnesses, formalized the partnership in rehabilitating and developing the two islands.
“In rehabilitating these islands, we acknowledge the crucial role of the local government as a partner that is why we have been engaging with them since our relief intervention. This MOU will help strengthen and sustain our relationship as partners in this bigger endeavor of developing the islands and its people. Given the magnitude of impacts brought by Typhoon Yolanda, building back better is a huge task that needs the participation of all stakeholders – the government, the civil society and the affected communities,” Ms. Yoly Esguerra said.
Esguerra explained that PMPI is already present in these islands even before Typhoon Yolanda because of its partnership with local people’s organization involved in anti-mining campaign.
“Before Yolanda, we have been supporting the cause of Save Manicani Movement (SAMAMO) and Homonhon Environmental Rescuers Organization (HERO) in these islands against the large-scale mining operations. We know the people and their vulnerabilities aggravated by the extractives industry so when we saw the impact of the typhoon in these areas, we know that we have to be there with them to help in immediately addressing the needs of these communities,” she further explained.
“Initially, our objective is to provide relief for the survival of the communities. However, the results of our post-disaster needs and capacities assessments pushed and motivated us to make it a holistic rehabilitation intervention,” Esguerra added.
Dubbed as #ProjectPagbangon, Esguerra also explained that the project is a three-year integrated island development project covering various components – health, shelter, disaster preparedness and risk reduction, agriculture and land resource, coastal resource management, communication system and renewable energy.
“Aside from engaging the government, we make sure that the residents in these islands are part of the process of rehabilitation and not just beneficiaries of our efforts. They are the ones who validated the results of our assessments, created a vision for their islands and identified the needs that must be addressed. They will be part of managing and implementing the projects with us” she further said.
It should be noted that Manicani and Homonhon, and the rest of Guiuan town, were the first areas hit by Typhoon Yolanda. Aside from the damages from Yolanda, these two small islands are also severely impacted by the decade-long mining activities.