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UN pledges long term support for post-typhoon Philippines

Agency chief vows to rebuild farming and fishing sector

Ronald O. Reyes, Tacloban City

Ronald O. Reyes, Tacloban City

Updated: March 09, 2014 09:36 PM GMT
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UN pledges long term support for post-typhoon Philippines

Four months after Typhoon Haiyan, affected communities still struggle to pick up the pieces. (Picture by Vincent Go)

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The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations has vowed to support long-term projects in typhoon devastated areas in the central Philippines.

Providing farmers with alternative livelihoods is a top priority of the organization, FAO director-general, José Graziano da Silva said on Monday.

Da Silva was visiting the town of Basey in Samar province Monday to look into the FAO's response program for farmers and fishermen in the area.

The FAO says Super Typhoon Haiyan, which hit the central Philippines in November, devastated the agriculture sector, resulting in the loss of 1.1 million tons of crops and damaging some 33 million coconut trees.

In the fishery sector, FAO data showed that some 400,000 individuals were affected and about 30,000 fishing vessels were destroyed.

Da Silva said another top priority for the organization is rebuilding boats and the fishing industry in the area.

The FAO so far has mobilized $11.7 million as part of the UN’s Strategic Response Plan for Haiyan-devastated areas.

Da Silva told farmers and fishermen during a community meeting earlier on Monday to "build resilience to future disasters and make sure that when the next typhoon hits, communities are able to build back better and safer".

The FAO is distributing 4,000 tons of fertilizer to more than 80,000 families along with 13,000 farming tools to ensure "optimum yield" for food security and a full recovery.

"Our rapid response cost around $5 million and will yield $84 million in rice, providing real value for money to donors," said Rajendra Aryal, acting FAO representative in the Philippines.

Aryal said the FAO's continued call for urgent support for affected farmers and fishermen has already received support from several donors.

UNICEF, meanwhile, said the needs of children still remain great and the signs of destruction still persist four months after the disaster.

In a report titled "Four Months After Typhoon Haiyan" released last Friday, UNICEF said a host of immediate risks "still looms largely on children", ranging from epidemic outbreaks, disruption and loss of access to learning, greater exposure to violence, exploitation and abuse.

The UNICEF report noted that despite the growing sense of recovery notable in the reopening of health centers, clean water, among others, "there is still an overwhelming reminder that much more needs to be done to restore devastated lives and communities". 

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