• UN vows to renew coastal forests in Eastern Visayas

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    AIMING to lessen vulnerability from future typhoons and possible storm surge in Eastern Visayas, an international aid organization vowed to rehabilitate the coastal mangroves, and combine it with livelihood diversification to rebuild better communities in Yolanda-ravaged areas.

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    “FAO [Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations] recognizes the importance of building resilience and reducing vulnerability, and emphasizes the need to rehabilitate coastal mangroves,” acting FAO Representative in the Philippines, Rajendra Aryal said.

    Aryal noted that mangroves protect shorelines and coastal communities.

    “They are an important part of the coastal ecosystem for fisheries,” the FAO said, adding that replanting and maintenance of the mangroves are needed.

    However, Aryal emphasized that the mangroves have suffered degradation “due to acts of humans and recurring natural disasters in recent years.”

    FAO estimates about 145 fishers were dislocated by the storm surge. They are now also collaborating closely with the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), “on the delivery of standardized quality fisheries inputs, such as selective gear, mariculture inputs and small-scale fish processing equipment.”

    Recently, FAO provided agricultural crops to some 44,000 farming households in Eastern Visayas, including 40 kilograms of seeds.

    Over the weekend, the New Zealand Minister of Civil Defence, Nikki Kaye and Ambassador Reuben Levermore visited Barangay Gacao in Palo, Leyte and committed a NZD 2.5 million to the FAO in their recovery work.

    “This is why I wanted to come to visit you here. We expected that communities like yours will receive our support in accordance with your needs. These additional NZD 2.5 million will be mainly used to help you plant other crops so you don’t have to rely solely on coconut trees; we want you to enhance your resilience and stand against any typhoon in future,” Minister Kaye said.

    The FAO project is in coordination with the Philippines’ Department of Agriculture, Agriculture, Department of Agrarian Reform and other relevant government agencies, is implementing medium-term strategic projects on intercropping, integrated with small-scale livestock ruminants supporting typhoon-affected small-scale coconut farmers and helping them restore their livelihood and build resilience.

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