• UN needs additional $38M to carry out Yolanda projects


    A United Nations development official said that the agency would need additional $38-million fund “to carry out programs in the Philippines” that will aid Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) victims and rehabilitate the Visayas region for the whole year of 2014.

    In a press briefing in New York on Monday (Tuesday in Manila), Haoliang Xu, assistant administrator and director of asian bureau of UN Development Program (UNDP), said that the seeking of funds will be for the continuation of the UN programs “for the next 12 months” for typhoon victims and rehabilitation in the country.

    The UNDP official said that the fund would provide for improving early warning systems, education on disaster preparedness, “cash-for-work” program, building of evacuation centers, planting and restoring the environment as well as bringing access of renewable energy.

    “The road to recovery must also be the road to sustainability so bucket by bucket, street by street, we will set the communities on the path to recovery and sustainable human development,” Xu said.

    “The UN team in the Philippines [will]continue working with partners and the [Philippine] government to build back stronger, making communities more resilient and sustainable,” he added.

    To date, the UN agencies and partner organizations provided rice, high-energy biscuits and other food products to 3 million affected individuals of the typhoon, as well as offer cash-for-work programs that will give employment to thousands of people by debris cleaning, proper disposal of wastes, planting of trees, rebuilding of houses in the area.

    “Our objectives include clearing debris to allow easy access for aid to reach affected households; enabling people to bring home much needed income; injecting cash into the local economy; and developing ownership in the recovery process,” Xu said, who also visited the Visayas area last week.

    As of press time, there were 345 workers taking part in the UNDP cash-for-work initiative, which is expected to increase by 500 today (Wednesday). Xu said that the program was already rolled out to two schools and two hospitals.

    The government directed them that the participating workers would have $6 or about P260 daily wage, and are required to wear protective gears and vaccinated against tetanus.

    Aside from food and employment, the UN, other institutions and the Philippine government provided housing materials to over 10,000 households, debriefing of over 759 teachers for the return of classes in January, and rice and corn seeds to be planted by 17,000 families for the next planting season.

    In terms of recovery, Xu said that their goal is to bring back “normalcy” by putting children to schools, getting jobs back for workers and to reopen hospitals and relaunch public services in the region.

    The food, cash-for-work employment and rebuilding of livelihoods were included in UNDP’s recovery plan. In addition, they include small business developments, rehabilitation of social and commercial infrastructure such as farms and markets, providing mobile sawmills and establishing workshops for carpenters to recycle damaged housing materials for construction.

    According to latest data from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, Typhoon Yolanda affected families already reached over 13 million, raising its death toll by 5,680 and its missing persons by 1,779.

    Kristyn Nika M. Lazo


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