How (Exactly) to Rebuild a City

Perhaps it is an issue best left to politicians jostling for credit on who gave what and how much. Perhaps not.
Perhaps it is an issue of sheer will and perseverance.
Perhaps it is an issue of faith.

While many think that rebuilding a city is a matter of sending relief goods, shelter and financial donations, I am somewhat inspired by what the current Pope said previously on an unrelated matter. I am not a Catholic but his message resounds in my spirit and heart.

Where There is Work, There is Dignity

Where I live right now used to be a frontier a few decades back. And my observations on how this little barangay was built both the negative and the positive could be of value to those who have the power to make it so in Tacloban City and elsewhere with the aftermath of Yolanda.

People choose the place to put their shelter on not just because of its security but because it is near the source of value that it can provide to them.

The world can only sustain Tacloban and elsewhere until how long? One cannot simply want to put up a city of relief goods and donations.

A lot of work must be created. Let the city of Tacloban be built on the foundation of dignity in work.

Shelter must be built, so there will be men who must be employed as carpenters, masons, plumbers, electricians and such. Perhaps, this is what the city of Tacloban is doing now. I just hope that the ruling elite there recognizes this.

Of course, they would also need building materials. So hardware stores would be put up and entrepreneurs and traders who have the ability to bring goods from one place to another would be needed.

While the strong men of labor rebuild the houses, the schools, the clinics, etc, they must be fed. So part of their salary would go to the people who supply cooked food. These are your eateries and carinderias which operate at very low capital and with high rates of turnover despite marginal profits. The operators of these establishments could then sustain their own livelihoods from the carpenter's payments.

For these carinderias to operate they must have a supply of raw foodstuffs, like vegetables, meat, rice, condiments and a clean potable supply of water.

Initially these would come from outside sources if none are operating yet. Vegetables and meat would come from other provinces before they can grow their own. But that said, a farmer's work is never finished. They should start planting right now after the clearing operations.

For the farmer to start planting he must have land and seeds. For simple vegetables this should be sufficient. But for most consumer variety of vegetables, fertilizer and other farm related materials are necessary.

It would be a burden for the farmer to use personal loans to finance his endeavor, so it would be better if they are allowed to plant temporarily on government soil subsidized by the government. Like the carpenter and the mason, they would need farm implements and tools, so again, the trader derives an income.

Plunder and looting would still be the rule if there was no police force. Employing those who do not want to be farmers and laborers as auxiliary forces would be better than having them loot and steal. Of course, there is a downside to this as their character would be suspect if they do not want to work and submit to authority in the first place.

People need clothes to wear so women should start sewing and making handicrafts. Once the market is operational, they could sell these goods and provide a supplementary source of income for the entire household.

After a few months, the new houses will be built and the children would need to continue their education. There would be a need for teachers and principals.

The farmers' goods must be transported to the market so gasoline and vehicles for hire would be needed.

From then on, as lives are restored, new livelihoods will emerge as people need to find ways on which to 'invest' on the surplus of their productivity. Salons, barbers, electronics, information, casual dining, dry goods, luxuries, would again be in demand.

The more educated populace will then begin to take the posts needed in hospitals, government, legal, and various other services.

The bottom line is, it takes time to rebuild a city, but it is a naturally occurring economic phenomenon that will happen whether politicians or leaders exist.

The ultimate question is - how exactly will they rebuild it?

They could build it on the greed and credit taking of politicians, or they could build it, in the basic premise and belief that in work there is dignity.




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