• 31% out of the $791-M UN requested Yolanda fund filled

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    United Nations Secretary Ban Ki-Moon said on Sunday that already 31 percent of the total $791-million required funding for the Typhoon Yolanda [Haiyan]response are already filled, based on their Strategic Response Plan (SRP).

    In a press conference hours before leaving the Philippines, the UN secretary general told reporters over the weekend that the $791 million “requested fund” is in the UN humanitarian community’s SRP where it is “closely aligned” to the government’s Reconstruction Assistance on Yolanda (RAY) plan drafted by the National Economic and Development Authority.

    The RAY, as determined by the government, stated that there is a need of P361 billion or $8.2 billion for the longer term recovery and reconstruction for four years in hard-hit areas of the super typhoon in Visayas.

    Based on the 25th report of the UN-Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Ocha) as of December 20, a total of $529.6 million has been contributed to the Typhoon Yolanda by multilaterals, bilateral countries, UN emergency fund sources, and other donor-organizations.

    The secretary general said that basic community services such as health, water and sanitation provision are already being provided in the affected areas, and teams on the ground are working to provide protection and services to the vulnerable people like girls, women, children and the disabled persons.

    Ban said that with the emerging risk of foreign aid tapering by February next year, he met with key country representatives and ambassadors on Saturday to address the situation in the Visayas region.

    He said on Sunday that he urged the different leaders during the meeting to give more donations—financial or in-kind—as the region is still in need of assistance in different sectors especially food, health and water services.

    In terms of sectoral concerns,  UN-Ocha said that a total of “381 evacuation centers remain open, providing temporary shelter to 101,527 people, with the other 3.8 million displaced people are believed to be staying with friends and other family.”

    Temporary bunk houses were also being built “for those who remain in evacuation centers or informal settlers.”

    In early recovery and livelihood, the UN said that there are 5.9 million workers whose livelihoods are destroyed, and because of livelihood programs on the ground which started last month, seom 14,000 people were already working in the area clearing debris on roads, schools, hospitals and other infrastructures.

    The report also claimed that a total of 120 roads were cleared through the emergency employment programs.

    For education, some 16,800 classrooms are in need of repair and replacement, while additional text books and learning materials were also needed as classes have already resumed in the region.

    About 1,894 teachers were provided psycho-social support and counseling in the resuming of classes and how to approach teaching to children with emotional and psychological stress because of the super typhoon.

    UN-Ocha also said that about 207,495 or 70 percent of the targeted 300,000 households by UN cluster partners were provided emergency shelters as there were a total of 1.1 million houses damaged, 546,246 of which were completely destroyed.

    The UN said the shelter cluster of the SRP is only at 19 percent achieved compared to the 31 percent of other sectors, which is in need of provision of quality housing materials, especially roofing materials, as well as the draft of standards for bunkhouses and informal settlers concerns when it comes to no-build zones.

    In terms of food and agriculture, Ban said that they are targeting to plant the total 72,000-hectares land in Visayas so that the crop yields for next year would “not be lost.”

    “Rice seeds have been distributed to more than 10,000 farming households so far. Our aim is to ensure that at least 72,000 hectares can be planted, so the vital upcoming 2014 harvest is not lost,” Ban said.

    In addition, the UN also delivered 11,100 tons of rice, 260 tons of high-energy biscuits and 18 tons of specialized nutrition products as of Wednesday to provide for the near 3 million people in need of food security and assistance in the area.

    When it comes to health, reproductive health kits were given to 30,000 people, and family planning services and clinical management services were given to 10,000 people who suffered from sexual violence—both of which would cover 3 months of services.

    Over 40,000 children under five years of age were also screened for malnutrition, while 83 unaccompanied and separated children from their families have been identified and documented.

    Ban also said that bunkhouses built in the affected areas were given 3,096 hygiene kits and 5,016 water kits as they are “further scaling up” water, sanitation and hygiene (Wash) support and activities “to reduce the risk of a public health outbreak.”

    “We will fully support the Philippines Government’s efforts…I urge all donors to add to their already generous response so that we can help communities to build back better and safer,” Ban said.

    “The Philippines is among the most vulnerable nations to natural disasters. But it is also showing leadership in improving preparedness and building resilience. The United Nations stands firmly with the country in these efforts,” the UN secretary general added, citing that the UN was the first to take action when the typhoon hit the country.

    KRISTYN NIKA M. LAZO

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