UN focus shifts from life-saving aid to school, work priorities in storm-ravaged Philippines

7 February 2014

Three months after Typhoon Haiyan devastated central Philippines, United Nations agencies and their partners are refocusing their priorities to longer-term assistance aimed at getting children back in to classrooms and parents to work.

“Our focus to date has been on providing life-saving aid to those children and communities that were hardest hit by the Typhoon and who are most at risk,” said Angela Kearney, the UNICEF Representative in the Philippines. “We are making real progress, but so much more needs to be done to restore these children’s rights and to return to them their chance to fulfil their potential.”

Some 420,000 children from the worst hit areas are now back in school in repaired, makeshift and tent classrooms and using learning materials from “school-in-a-box”, early childhood and recreational kits, according to information from the UN agency.

The back to school campaign will continue to expand ahead of the new school year, which starts in June.

Meanwhile, the UN International Labour Organization (ILO) has been providing short-term jobs using the emergency employment approach, which contributes to the massive efforts for debris clearing, clean-up work and temporary repairs of critical community facilities.

In the second phase of the programme, the ILO will aim to create jobs and generate income at the community level. It is expected that the programme will create 100,000 work days before the end of December 2014.

Given the work still needed to be done to clear debris, rehabilitate community infrastructures and recover agricultural land to allow long-term recovery and development activities, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) is helping families rebuild their livelihoods while continuing to meet the immediate needs of the most vulnerable.

The UN agency plans to implement cash- and food-for-work activities for some 500,000 people to support this process, a UN spokesperson told journalists today in New York.

Also today, WFP confirmed that through its partnership with the Government of the Philippines, non-governmental organizations and UN agencies, it has helped more than 2.8 million people receive emergency food and nutrition support in the past three months.

Typhoon Haiyan swept ashore in the Philippines on 8 November and has been called the strongest such storm to ever touch land. It left nearly 6,000 people dead and displaced millions, affecting close to 14 million people overall.

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