Nearly four months after a 7.2-magnitude earthquake devastated parts of Bohol Island in the Philippines, the United Nations (UN) resident and humanitarian coordinator, Luiza Carvalho, is calling on donors to provide an additional $19 million for urgent shelter needs, as well as health, education and early recovery efforts in the affected areas.
In a related development, the pre-reconstruction phase of ten ruined churches declared as government properties was suspended after the Department of Budget and Management failed to release the P650-million allocated fund.
The UN official said donors have provided $15.1 million for the humanitarians’ six-month joint action plan for Bohol covering the six months from the time of the earthquake to April 15.
“The Philippines authorities and humanitarian partners have contended with a series of disasters, including Super Typhoon Haiyan, since the 7.2-magnitude earthquake hit Bohol on October 15 last year. We are continuing to support the authorities’ efforts on many fronts and will not forget the plight of people affected in Bohol,” said Carvalho.
“Two new national non-governmental organizations and five new local organizations have included projects in the revised plan. They all have the capacity to implement the projects in Bohol. But they urgently need funding to succeed,” she said.
Most of the nearly 368,000 people whose homes were damaged or destroyed are still living in their damaged homes or in tents nearby. With aftershocks still common, shelter assistance is urgently needed to help people out of these unsafe conditions.
Landslides and aftershocks push them out of the house and into the tents, while flooding and heavy rains drive them back into unsafe homes. Students are back to school with almost 100-percent attendance, but 839 classrooms are in temporary learning spaces, pending the rebuilding of structures.
The requested funding for the revised Bohol action plan is $33.8 million, lower than the $46.8 million in the original plan. With the emergency now in a recovery phase, the request for funding was reduced in line with the current outstanding needs, following detailed assessments by stake–holders and consultations with the government.
Concerning the repair and restoration of churches, Fr. Milan Ted Torralba, executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines-Committee for the Cultural Heritage of the Church, said the government had vowed to provide the amount for the restoration of its “national cultural treasures, national historical landmarks and important cultural properties.”
However, he said that the fund allocated is not enough for the restoration of the Churches since it will be utilized only for this year.
A few weeks after the onslaught of the earthquake, the government’s working committee—composed of the National Museum, National Cultural Commission and the Arts and the National Historical Commission of the Philippines—started its work, but stopped in December for the Christmas break, he said.
In January, the working committee was not able to resume its operation since the government was not able “to release the money” during the first quarter of the year.