MANILA, Philippines - Recovery efforts in areas that Super Typhoon Yolanda devastated last year will continue to receive support from United Nations agencies and the international community.
Luisa Carvalho, UN Country Team resident and humanitarian coordinator in the Philippines, said the support will be given at all levels, particularly through the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery and relevant line departments.
In a statement yesterday, Carvalho said they are privileged to have been able to contribute to the humanitarian response.
“We are humbled by the extraordinary resilience of the Filipino people who, despite the unprecedented destruction and tragedy that struck, pushed through individually and collectively, and with generosity of spirit, to this point where recovery is well underway,” she said.
Carvalho said recovery started as soon as two months after the catastrophe, with UN agencies and partners shifting gears to rehabilitation and development work in August, due to the good results of humanitarian phase and in response to the Philippine government’s official launch of the recovery phase.
“We recognize that ‘building back better’ will be a complex and long process, particularly the rehabilitation of human settlements and the restoration of livelihoods.”
Families and communities must be prepared for upcoming weather systems, Carvalho said.
People killed when Yolanda struck the Philippines last year will be remembered on the first anniversary of the world’s strongest typhoon on Nov. 8.
The UN Humanitarian Country Team served roughly 3.7 million people with food assistance; 82,000 mothers given feeding counsel; 23,000 pregnant and lactating women with prenatal and postnatal care; almost 1 million people with rehabilitated water systems; 350,000 with new or rehabilitated latrines; 570,000 households with emergency shelter; 162,000 households with emergency employment; 102,000 people provided information on prevention and management of gender-based violence in emergencies; 20,101 young people provided with information and services on health and protection; and 100,000 farmers with agricultural seeds and tools.
These were done in partnership with national agencies, local governments, donors, private sector, and civil society.
Carvalho said 4,900 temporary learning spaces were created, 545,000 children received learning materials, and public health outbreaks were effectively prevented.
The French business community reaffirmed yesterday its commitment to complete two reconstruction projects in Northern Cebu early next year.
The France-Philippines United Action (FPUA), in partnership with Habitat for Humanity, has built 74 disaster-resilient houses on a 5,488-square-meter site in Barangay Agujo, Daanbantayan, Cebu.
The houses will be handed over to selected families before Christmas.
Designed by architect Ed Florentino, each house can withstand up to intensity 8 earthquakes and 275-300 kilometer-per-hour winds. Lafarge – the world’s largest cement maker and a member of FPUA – provided the construction materials.
FPUA now aims to construct 148 more houses on a 13,500-square meter site in Barangay Paypay, also in Daanbantayan, in partnership with the French and the Philippine Red Cross and Habitat for Humanity, scheduled for completion by June 2015.
Beneficiary families will be covered by a comprehensive livelihood program.
FPUA members Total, Sanofi, and la Caisse des Dépôts collaborated with the Red Cross for the project.
Altogether, FPUA raised $613,700 from different French companies.
FPUA chairman Don Lee, Lafarge Philippines president and country CEO, said the French business community is one with these communities as they stand back on their feet and rebuild stronger foundations for the future.
“As we see the outpouring of continuous relief support given to those affected, we would like to supplement these inspirational efforts by launching the rebuilding of permanent homes in these surrounding communities,” he said.
Charlie Ayco, Habitat for Humanity chief executive officer, said each house costs P200,000 to build.
We could have opted to build cheaper houses but we are looking at it on a long-term basis. Instead of building cheaper ones using GI sheets for roofs, we will build houses that could withstand strong typhoons,” he said.
Daanbantayan Mayor Augusto Corro said his town of 15 barangays needs at least 4,000 new houses and about 18,000 houses to be repaired. “At present we have given 7,000 shelter kits but these are just umbrellas and GI sheets. There are a lot of houses in the danger or no build zone. This is a good start.”
French Ambassador Gilles Garachon said the French government’s efforts to help in the rehabilitation of Yolanda-hit areas are all being coordinated with the Philippine government through the office of Secretary Panfilo Lacson, presidential assistant for rehabilitation and recovery.
Garachon said more and more French business firms in the Philippines and in the region are pledging help for the Yolanda-affected areas, particularly in the area of livelihood access.
A report on how the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) responded to the Philippine government’s call for assistance to Yolanda victims a year ago will be presented at an international conference at Shangri-La Hotel in Makati on Nov. 12-13.
The report “FAO Response to Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines: Relief, Rehabilitation, and Development for Resilience” will be among the 50 presentations to be made at the Second International Conference on Agricultural and Rural Development in Southeast Asia-2014.
Aristeo Portugal, assistant FAO Philippine representative since 2009, prepared the report.
Organizing the conference is the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA).
The theme is “Strengthening Resilience, Equity and Integration in ASEAN Food and Agriculture Systems.”
SEARCA director Gil Saguiguit Jr. said about 400 scientists, academics, economists, government policymakers, farmer-leaders and practicing farmers, representatives of civil society organizations, and other stakeholders are expected to attend the high-level conference.
In his report, Portugal said the response to Yolanda highlighted the significance of effective cooperation between FAO and the Philippine government and the importance of efficient collaboration between FAO and its partners.
The government and international humanitarian agencies have accomplished a lot for the millions of Yolanda survivors in recovery and rehabilitation efforts in Eastern Visayas. – With Mike Frialde, Rudy Fernandez, Rainier Allan Ronda