By Roy Mabasa
The Czech Republic, through its Embassy in Manila, has announced the conclusion of its almost nine-month humanitarian aid project with non-profit social enterprise Build Change to improve the local capacity of shelter response programs in areas ravaged by Typhoon Mangkhut (Ompong).
Started in December 2018, the Php 7.7 million worth Build Change project worked directly with local communities to strengthen or rebuild storm-damaged houses due to Typhoon Mangkhut that struck the Philippines in September 2018.
Typhoon Mangkhut was responsible for at least 127 fatalities and US$627 million in property losses, making it the fourth costliest Philippine typhoon of all time.
Build Change specifically worked in Cagayan and Benguet Provinces on a shelter repair program to help 700 households and 200 builders.
In Kalinga and Apayao Provinces, the Czech-backed project focused on assistance to build quality new construction. Overall, the project resulted in over 800 safer buildings, more than 4,000 safer people, at least 250 new jobs, and 1,017 people directly trained in resilient building techniques.
One of the additional outcomes of Build Change project was the creation of a mobile application for the Google Play store called Tibay Balay.
Unveiled by the Czech Embassy last September 5, the application help homeowners in the Philippines to self-assess their homes and determine how to fix them before the next disaster strikes.
Czech Ambassador to the Philippines Jana Šedivá said the frequency of typhoons and other disasters in the Philippines requires that homeowners, their communities, and nonprofit groups that support them are all trained in resilient building.
“This project has rebuilt affected communities, and taught construction techniques that will prevent unnecessary loss of life and property in the future,” Šedivá said.
For her part, Build Change Country Director for the Philippines Kate Landry noted that with the creation of the mobile app Tibay Balay, “any homeowner can quickly assess their house and understand what needs to be done to keep their family and property safe.”
“It is our hope that these homeowners who lost so much in Mangkhut (Ompong) can restart their lives knowing their homes are safe,” she added.
In past years, the Czech Republic Embassy in Manila has also provided humanitarian assistance, especially to those who were greatly affected by Typhoon Nina in the Bicol in 2016, or by typhoon Yolanda in Eastern Samar in 2014.