FAO seeks $11 million for farmers

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ROME: Farmers hit by Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) face a “double tragedy” without urgent aid to clear land and irrigation channels and plant their crops, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned on Wednesday.

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The United Nations (UN) agency urged international donors to front at least $11 million to help typhoon victims clean farmlands and de-silt irrigation canals rendered useless by this month’s typhoon.

“The urgency of timing can’t be overstated,” said Dominique Burgeon, the director of FAO’s Emergency and Rehabilitation Division.

“It would be a double tragedy if next spring farming families still needed to rely on continued humanitarian food assistance because we haven’t been able to support them as they recover from this disaster.”

The Department of Agriculture has asked the FAO to support the cash-for-work scheme covering some 150,000 hectares and 80 kilometers of communal irrigation canals, the FAO said.

It takes one person 10 days to clear a single hectare of farmland, it said. The funding will also go towards acquiring some 1,400 communal irrigation pumps.

The additional funds would come on top of $20 million already requested by the FAO to help Philippine farmers plant, fertilize, irrigate and maintain their crops to ensure the 2014 harvests.

More help
Meanwhile, more donations continue to pour for the typhoon victims as the Japanese government and the International Labor Organization (ILO) allocated $500,000 to help support the post-relief response in several parts of Visayas.

The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare of Japan provided the funds under the ILO/Japan Fund for Building Social Safety Nets in Asia and the Pacific.

“The ILO is grateful to the Government of Japan for this valuable financial contribution, which will be used to support the affected population who lost their jobs and source of livelihood due to Typhoon Haiyan,” Yoshiteru Uramoto, ILO assistant director general and regional director for Asia and the Pacific said.

“The ILO estimates that some 5.2 million workers have seen their livelihoods destroyed or disrupted. Among these, 2.3 million were already in vulnerable employment and living in poverty before Typhoon Haiyan struck. This funding will help ensure occupational safety and skills training for workers involved in recovery activities.”

The ILO/Japan Fund for Building Social Safety Nets (SSN) in Asia and the Pacific was set up following the signing of an agreement between the ILO and the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare in June 2011.

The Lebanese community in the Philippines also donated P351,572 for the typhoon victims.

The “modest donation” was handed over to ABS-CBN Sagip-Kapamilya Foundation.

Lebanon’s Honorary Consul General to the Philippines Joseph Assad and Abdul Kader Jadid, president of the Philippine-Lebanon Friendship Community, spearheaded the donation drive.

They were able to collect funds from Lebanese residents in Manila, $3,000 from the United Doctors Hospital in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and P50,000 from Solar Power Solutions.

Tzu Chi Foundation also collected funds from 25 countries for Yolanda victims. The group distributed cash relief to homeless victims.

Alfredo Li, the foundation’s chief executive officer in the country, said that the affected families also need cash aside from food and water.

“Families have no income, their houses are still destroyed, and streets are scattered with debris. We only hope faster recovery for the victims,” he said.

He and his fellow Tzu Chi volunteers carried out relief missions in Ormoc and Tacloban cities. They gave out cash aid to 8,586 Ormoc resident, as well as thermal blankets, clothing and rice.

Li said that P8,000 was given to a family with a maximum of two members, P12,000 for a family of three to four members, P15,000 for five or more members.

“Before putting the cash in the envelopes, Tzu Chi volunteers around the world have gone out in the streets to solicit donations. They put behind their reservations knowing how many people in our country need help.”

In Tacloban City, the foundation continues with its cash-for-work program, which allows the residents to earn P500 a day by cleaning up their own houses and streets.

The Sterling Group, meanwhile, distributed thousands of boxes of Rebisco biscuits and goody bags. Each bag has one pair of slippers, 100 pieces of assorted medicines especially those for diarrhea, canned goods, flashlight, soap, toothbrush and toothpaste.

Hyatt Hotels Corp. also donated $50,000 to Mercy Corps, an international non-profit organization that helps victims of natural disasters.

Hyatt pledged to match the donations of its guests worldwide until December 6 to help in the long-term recovery of the victims.

“We are all deeply saddened by the tragic loss and devastation experienced in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan. While we are thankful that our colleagues at the Hyatt Regency Manila are safe from the storm, our hearts go out to the thousands of families who lost loved ones or who were adversely affected by the typhoon. We are now coming together to focus our efforts on helping those families and communities which require care and attention,” Larry Tchou, Asia Pacifc Group President, said.

AFP AND BERNICE CAMILLE BAUZON

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