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Philippines launches $8.2 billion typhoon recovery plan

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Thu, 19 Dec 2013 01:16 PM
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A Christmas tree stands on the roof of a makeshift shelter as a typhoon survivor clears the debris of his wrecked family home in Tacloban city in the central Philippines. Picture December 19, 2013, REUTERS/Erik De Castro
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BANGKOK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The Philippines government has launched an $8.2 billion, four-year plan to rebuild areas devastated by Typhoon Haiyan, which slammed into the central islands six weeks ago, leaving almost 8,000 people dead or missing and causing massive damage. 

Up to 14 million people were affected by the super-storm, over 1 million homes were destroyed and some 4 million people remain displaced, the United Nations said. Damage and losses were estimated at around $12.9 billion.

On Wednesday Philippine President Benigno Aquino, who has been criticised over the slow emergency response, appealed for donations and pledges at a meeting with donor states and multilateral organisations. 

“Your help is all the more necessary today because, in confronting the escalating effects of climate change, the resources of countries like the Philippines will be strained to the limit,” he said at the unveiling of the plan  ‘Reconstruction Assistance on Yolanda’. Yolanda was the local name given to the typhoon

“Every dollar of funding assistance will be used in as efficient and lasting a manner as possible,” he added. 

Half the money he hopes to raise will go to rebuild housing. The industry and services sector, which includes livelihoods, enterprises and services, will receive the next largest share, about 20 percent of the total. 

Aquino has appointed a former senator, Panfilo Lacson, as the Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery to oversee the reconstruction. 

Lacson was known for cracking down on corruption during his time as head of the national police force, and during his 12 years in the Senate has resisted ‘pork barrel’ funds – the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) that critics say has been misused for legislators’ pet projects, some of them non-existent, to impress voters. 

NEED TO REDUCE DISASTER RISK 

On Monday, more than 50 aid organisations including the United Nations launched a $791 million Strategic Response Plan to provide help over a 12-month period to 3 million people in the central Philippines who were affected by the typhoon. The U.N. said its plan would complement the government-led one. 

“We project that by the first quarter of next year, the need for humanitarian response will be filled,” Aquino said. “From now until December 2014, we will be preoccupied with critical, immediate investments, such as the rebuilding and repair of infrastructure and the construction of temporary housing,” he added. 

Aquino also spoke of the importance of building strongly to reduce the increased risks posed by global warming and climate change, which he called “the rising challenge of our times”.  

“In the aftermath of Yolanda, what we must build is a partnership borne not only of necessity, but also of the realisation that helping all those in need—all those who suffer—must be accompanied by reducing the risks that allow this need and this suffering to arise,” he said. 

“Now, more than ever, we must work together to mitigate the abuse of the environment that has resulted, and continues to result, in tragedy, especially for the more vulnerable peoples of the world,” he added. 

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