IOM Promotes Community Team Work to Build Temporary Homes for Persons Left Homeless by February's Earthquake

Date Publish: 
Chile / America

Humanitarian assistance and team work are full speed ahead in the
Maule and Bio Bio regions of southern Chile, where IOM is managing
the construction of more than 450 temporary home for persons left
homeless by last February's earthquake.

"No doubt that the most important achievement, in addition to
the construction of the much-needed temporary homes, has been the
high degree of participation and cooperation by the affected
families, the community, the local authorities, and the military
and men and women which are all helping to make this project a
success," explains Viviana Mellado, head of the IOM Mission in

More than 2,000 families left homeless by the massive February
earthquake and subsequent tsunami will directly benefit from the
1,507 temporary homes being built by IOM and its partners in the
southern regions of Maule and Bio Bio, the two areas most heavily

IOM is working with the Government of Chile, local authorities
and NGOs in the construction of the homes, with funding from the
UN's Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF).

According to the Government of Chile, some 160,000 homes (37 per
cent of them in the Bío Bío Region) were damaged
beyond repair.  Official estimates place the number of persons
in need of emergency shelter support at 100,000.

IOM developed the project with an emphasis on local labour and
local building materials to help the local economy which was also
affected by the earthquake.

In the urban area of Coronel, in the Bío Bío
Region, the community of Santa Elena came together and is working
on the construction of the temporary homes without knowing which
house each family will be allocated.

Meanwhile in rural areas, the relentless work of neighbourhood
teams has managed to complete the construction and the
beneficiaries are enjoying their new temporary homes.  Many of
those involved in the team effort had to travel long distances to
participate in the construction; the women have shown not only
incredible physical strength, but also strong leadership skills, as
some worked as supervisors at the construction sites.

Currently, there is construction underway in Portezuelo, Parral,
Cabrero and Quirihue where some 120 soldiers and another 200
persons are putting the house panels and then moving the structures
to the designated areas.  Some 100 of these workers are

Clotilde is 60 years old and lost her home to the violent
earthquake, which measured 8.8 on the Richter scale.  She
hails from the rural village of Ninhue, located 110 kilometres from
the city of Concepcion, the capital of the Bío Bío
region.  She lost her home and almost all of her meagre
belongings, but still had the strength to forge ahead and to help
in the construction of the temporary homes.  The poverty in
which the rural population live, coupled with the vast distances
they have to travel every day to get home, make this woman and her
family an example of the scope of this project in the rural

Today Clotilde is smiling because just a few days ago she moved
in to her new temporary home.

"Thank you for doing this.  My house was badly
damaged.  With this new home I can start again with my
family.  This is a great thing because we had received no
assistance, and now that we have this house we are very
happy.  We came together, all of the residents of this
community and we did together. I'm so happy!" exclaims

Thirty-year-old Clarissa Venegas is the president of the
community of Santa Elena in Coronel.  She works hand in hand
with her neighbours in the construction of the 150 new homes for
this community, even though none of them know which house they will

This community is an example of what can be achieved with team
work and when all actors come together in the aftermath of an
emergency.  Many of them did not know their neighbours before
the earthquake and today are openly proud of what they have

"The houses are beautiful.  The women have worked very
hard.  We are very happy and grateful for this assistance and
are proud of all families who participated in this endeavour," says

Both of these women lived months of uncertainty. Today they
agree and say in unison: "This is a gift from heaven."

For more information, please contact:

Viviana Mellado

IOM Chile

Telephone: +

E-mail: "">

© IOM 2010