WORLD BANK RAISES PHILIPPINE TYPHOON AID PACKAGE TO $1 BILLION

World Bank Group president Jim Yong Kim yesterday offered an additional $480 million in financial assistance just days after announcing the availability of $500 million in emergency loan. Kim said the global financial institution was encouraged by “the resilience of Filipinos and the determination shown by President Aquino and his government as they work to recover from a disaster of unprecedented scale.”



Despite their dire conditions, residents of Tacloban City are still rooting for Manny Pacquiao in his Macau bout today. VAL RODRIGUEZ

NOVEMBER 25, 2013 (PHILSTAR) NOVEMBER 25, 2013 (PHILSTAR) By Ted Torres - The World Bank has increased to nearly $1 billion its total financial aid package for the rehabilitation of areas in the Visayas devastated by Super Typhoon Yolanda.

World Bank Group president Jim Yong Kim yesterday offered an additional $480 million in financial assistance just days after announcing the availability of $500 million in emergency loan.

Kim said the global financial institution was encouraged by “the resilience of Filipinos and the determination shown by President Aquino and his government as they work to recover from a disaster of unprecedented scale.”

“With overwhelming demands, the relief, recovery and reconstruction effort will take time. The World Bank Group is committed to supporting the government’s efforts to rebuild people’s lives no matter how long it takes,” Kim said in a statement.

The additional $480-million financial aid is being processed and it can be released in just weeks.

Kim said he has mobilized the WB staff to facilitate quick delivery of the $500-million emergency budget support loan, with teams working around the clock due to the urgent nature of the situation.

The additional $480 million is assistance for the National Community Driven Development Project. The project could immediately help typhoon-affected communities rebuild community-level or livelihood-related infrastructure such as water, rural roads, schools and clinics, using retroactive financing.

The project will empower the communities themselves to lead the reconstruction effort and scale up the successful Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive Integrated Delivery of Social Services program.

Kim also informed Aquino of the quick deployment of the WB’s disaster specialists to assess damage and identify priority areas for immediate recovery and reconstruction support.

The WB is also looking at restructuring existing investment projects to support reconstruction of affected communities.

Further assistance will be offered through new investment or results-based operations to support medium- and long-term reconstruction efforts, when the government’s Yolanda recovery and reconstruction plan is completed, according to the WB statement.

NEDA to present recovery plan

Socio-Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan on Friday said they would present to President Aquino an “immediate recovery and rehabilitation action plan.” The short-term plan would take effect immediately, and onwards to the whole of 2014.

Balisacan, who is also director general of the National and Economic Development Authority, said the plan is designed to tackle basic needs that can be immediately addressed. The funding for the short-term plan can be sourced from the different agencies involved in relief operations.

The plan also involves description of priority sectors and areas that need to be addressed immediately, such as shelter; assistance to the farming sector such as seeds and farm implements; cash-for-work programs; food-for-work schemes; electricity; water; immediate construction or repair of clinics, hospitals and schools; and immediate source of financing to fuel these plans.

Apart from the WB, the Asian Development Bank also pledged a $523-million loan and grant package to the Philippines, as foreign governments and international aid agencies committed about $344 million in cash and relief goods.

UN increases aid appeal to $348 M

The United Nations (UN) also increased yesterday its emergency aid appeal for typhoon victims by nearly 16 percent to $348 million.

When it first launched its so-called flash appeal on Nov. 12, the UN sought $301 million, an amount that is nearly 39 percent funded at $134 million.

UN Humanitarian Coordinator Valerie Amos said the $348 million is expected to rise, as there are still communities yet to be reached and a major review of the appeal is slated for the first week in December.

“Much more needs to be done. Food, clean water and shelter remain the top priorities. Vast numbers of vulnerable people are still exposed to bad weather and need basic shelter,” Amos said in a news conference at the UN headquarters in New York after she returned from her second visit to typhoon-affected provinces in the Visayas.

“Families who have lost their homes will need substantial longer-term support from the international community to ensure they have the means to rebuild their houses,” she added.

The Philippine government initially estimated the reconstruction cost to reach as much as $5.8 billion, with more than one million houses totally or partly destroyed and about P23 billion ($524.3 million) worth of damage to agriculture and infrastructure.

As of yesterday, the national disaster agency said the death toll from Yolanda had risen to 5,235, with more than 1,600 still missing and over four million displaced people.

“The logistical challenges have been enormous, with many roads blocked and airports unusable in the first few days,” Amos said.
“The impact on essential services, hospitals, banks and markets, as well as the lack of fuel, transport, water and power, made it very difficult to scale up aid as quickly as was needed.

“I have seen and heard harrowing tales of desperate need and profound loss. I also heard reports of immense bravery and heart-warming compassion.

“I saw how the international community pulled together with the communities and authorities to work out how to overcome major obstacles, and saw more and more people being reached with basic assistance,” she added.
The UN World Food Program has reached over 2.5 million people with basic food aid.

More than 130 local and foreign medical teams are providing emergency treatment and thousands of tarpaulins and plastic sheets have been distributed. But vast numbers of vulnerable people are still exposed to bad weather and need basic shelter.

“I am very concerned that some 1.5 million children are at risk of acute malnutrition and close to 800,000 pregnant and nursing mothers need nutritional help. People living with chronic disease and other vulnerable groups need medication and specialist care,” Amos said.

On the other hand, she thanked the international community for its “great solidarity” with the Philippines, and donors for their generous and rapid response.

“We count on donors to help us rapidly address this shortage of supplies,” Amos said. “The people of the Philippines deserve our unwavering support as they survive this crisis, start rebuilding their lives and have hope for a better future.” – With Aurea Calica, Pia Lee-Brago


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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