A senior official with the UN Development Program (UNDP) said here Monday that providing humanitarian relief to survivors of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines remains a priority for the organization and its partners.
Haoliang Xu, UN Assistant Secretary-General and UNDP’s director of Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific, made the remarks at a press conference on the beginning of the post-Haiyan recovery process.
Xu, who visited some of the storm-hit sites during his trip to the region last week, noted that the response to date after the devastating storm includes distributing food to 3 million people, providing shelter material to 10,000 families and vaccinating 60,000 children against polio and measles.
“The goal of the recovery process is to help people return to normalcy by putting children back to schools, giving men and women jobs, re-opening hospitals and restarting the provision of public services,” he said.
“This is the road to recovery. It will lead to building back resilient communities able to withstand future superstorms,” he added.
Meanwhile, Xu said thousands of adults are being recruited for cash-for-work projects operated by UNDP as part of the response. According to him, these emergency employment schemes bridge the transition between the humanitarian phase and reconstruction.
Xu said the majority of the cash-for-work projects focus on removing debris and restoring livelihoods.
“The number of employed is growing by day … Our goal is 10,000 by the end of the year,” he said.
In addition to cash-for-work, UNDP’s early recovery plan includes providing start-up kits and quick grants for small business development, rehabilitating social and commercial infrastructure, and providing mobile saw mills and establishing workshops for carpenters to recycle timber into housing materials.
Xu stressed that the way forward “is to continue to work with our partners, civil society and private sector under the leadership of the government on building back stronger, more resilient communities.”
“The road to recovery must also be the road to sustainability,” he said. “But first, we start with debris removal through cash-for-work. Bucket by bucket, street by street, we will set these communities on the path to recovery and sustainable human development.”
Haiyan, locally termed Yolanda, made landfall in the Philippines on Nov. 8. A total of 5,632 people have been confirmed dead in the brunt of the typhoon in central Philippines, while another 1,759 still remained missing. Over 14 million people are affected and the number of displaced stands at 3.62 million. PNA