WB commits $500M

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WASHINGTON-based World Bank (WB) Group has committed an emergency loan of $500 million to support the Philippines’ efforts to rebuild the communities affected by Super Typhoon Yolanda.

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“In the aftermath of the typhoon, we have seen courageous efforts by the people of the Philippines to get back on their feet,” said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim.

Kim added that the Bank is committed not only to supporting the government in its rehabilitation efforts but to strengthen the country’s resilience against increasingly frequent extreme weather events.

The $500 million loan is being finalized to support reconstruction. The Bank said it is also ready to provide additional support, including through a conditional cash transfer program that provides funds to poor families.

Resources could also be directed to providing temporary shelters and to help with debris clean up, which will provide short-term jobs to poor families.

The WB said that a technical team will help assess the damage and gather information for a comprehensive reconstruction plan.

“Given the scale of this disaster, the country will need a long-term reconstruction plan. We can bring lessons learned from our work in reconstruction after disasters hit Aceh, Haiti, and other areas that might be helpful in the Philippines,” said Axel van Trotsenburg, World Bank vice president for East Asia Pacific.

The Bank is also providing technical assistance on disaster resistant design options for housing, health facilities, schools, and public markets that can withstand 250 kilometer to 280 kilometer per hour wind speed, and resist severe flooding.

“In the midst of this terrible tragedy, the government is determined to build more resilience into homes, buildings and roads to reduce risks in the future, which are critical in a country that is subject to an increasing number of severe weather events,” said Motoo Konishi, World Bank Philippines country director.

For its part, the International Finance Corp. (IFC) said that it is working with its client banks and financial institutions in the typhoon affected areas to ensure risk share facilities and advisory services are extended to private sector banks in order to help small and medium enterprises recover.

“IFC is in discussions with international banks, rural banks, and microfinance institutions to develop specific programs to help the private sector recover from the devastation,” said Jesse Ang, Resident Representative of the IFC, the Bank Group’s private sector arm.

Malacañang said that foreign donations for the victims of Yolanda reached P11.7 billion as of Monday.

The government recently launched the Foreign Aid Transparency Hub (FAiTH), an online portal of information on calamity aid and assistance received by the country from nations and multilateral organizations.

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said that the portal, which can be accessed at www.gov.ph/faith, shows comprehensive information on humanitarian aid.

Text donations
Meanwhile, the Philippine Disaster Recovery Foundation (PDRF) has launched HelpPH (help.ph), a global campaign for donations via mobile load to help raise funds for relief and reconstruction of typhoon-ravaged areas.

In a statement, the group said the project is in partnership with international organizations, Philippine non-governmental organizations, government agencies and private companies.

Mobile phone users from over 40 countries can now directly donate to HelpPh (http://www.helpphilippines.ph/) by sending airtime load to PDRF through BayadLoad, a mobile money service of Smart Communications Inc. (Smart) approved by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

To contribute to HelpPh, mobile phone subscribers overseas must key-in +63-999-7-000-000 (12-digits) as the beneficiary mobile number and then send their donation using the airtime top-up procedure of their specific mobile network operator. The maximum amount per day is $10 (P430). The fund-raising program will continue until December 31, 2013.

“The unprecedented scale of the devastation inflicted by Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda requires a global response. Through HelpPh, we are providing people all over the world the means to send help to those in greatest need through a few clicks on their mobile phones,” said PDRF Chairman Manuel Pangilinan.

On Monday, Japan dispatched two warships carrying 650 troops to the typhoon-ravaged provinces in the Visayas.

The two vessels that also carry six helicopters are expected to arrive on Friday.

A defense ministry spokesman said Japan’s Self-Defense Forces are sending a total of 10 planes to the central Philippines. The fleet consists of 7 C-130 transport planes, two KC-767 tanker planes and one U-4 multi-purpose support aircraft.

Mayvelin U. Caraballo, Catherine S. Valente  With report from AFP

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