Shelter, livelihoods remain priorities in typhoon-hit Philippines – top UN relief official
“The Government, the United Nations and NGO [non-governmental organizations] partners must now continue to work together to do more so that the most vulnerable people are included in the recovery,” Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos told journalists in the capital, Manila, wrapping up a two-day visit to the country.
Around 100 days have passed since super Typhoon Haiyan tore across central Philippines on 8 November 2013, killing more than 6,000 people and affecting close to 14 million overall.
“Tacloban today is almost unrecognizable from the city I saw in November,” the head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said referring to the city that bore the brunt of the storm’s fury.
“The early signs of recovery were visible everywhere,” she said, noting that streets once piled high with debris are now jammed with traffic, and that small businesses are open again and children are back in school.
There are still “enormous” needs for temporary shelter and permanent homes that underlines the urgency of finding long-term and durable solutions for affected families. “Livelihood needs are also huge,” Ms. Amos said at a press conference alongside UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for the Philippines, Luiza Carvalho, and the head of the OCHA office in the country, David Carden.
A million farmers in the Eastern Visayas region were affected when more than 33 million coconut trees were damaged or destroyed by the typhoon. More than a million coconut farmers were impacted, with an estimated loss of $396 million, according to the Philippine Coconut Authority.
In addition, nearly two-thirds of fishing communities lost their productive assets, with 10,000 mainly small-scale fishing boats lost or destroyed and 20,000 damaged, said Ms. Amos.
She praised the effective response of national authorities and people accustomed to dealing with disasters, as well as the structures already in place, for making the UN response more effective.
In December, the UN launched a one-year Strategic Response Plan for nearly $800 million dollars, in support of the Government’s strategic plan, amounting to some $8.17 billion over four years to guide the recovery and reconstruction in the affected areas.
The $788 million plan aims to restore the economic and social conditions of the affected areas at the very least to pre-typhoon levels and to create a higher level of disaster resilience. It is currently 46 per cent funded.