Rice aid from US for Yolanda survivors arrive

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Friday, February 28, 2014

UNITED States (US) Ambassador Philip Goldberg turned over 1,500 metric tons of rice to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the World Food Programme (WFP) on Thursday as part of the US Government’s help to typhoon survivors in the Visayas.

Another 3,500 metric tons are expected to arrive in March.

During his visit to Tacloban City last December, US Secretary of State John Kerry announced that the US Government will deliver 5,000 metric tons of rice for survivors of Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), which pummeled central Philippines last November 8.


The donation can feed 500,000 people for a month, according to a press release of the US Embassy in Manila.

“This assistance signifies once again the commitment of the American people to be a partner in rebuilding the lives of so many affected by Typhoon Yolanda,” Goldberg said.

When the rest of the rice assistance arrives, the US Government will have donated a total of 8,400 tons of high-quality rice to typhoon survivors.

“We are hopeful that this contribution will help put food on the table, and help prevent acute malnutrition especially among children,” said Gloria Steele, mission director of the United States Agency for International Development (USaid).

DSWD Director Mercedita Jabagat and WFP Deputy Country Director Asaka Nyangara were present during the turnover ceremony at the J. King Warehouse Complex on A.C. Cortes Ave., Mandaue City on Thursday morning.

Jabagat said the rice assistance will come a long way. She noted that the DSWD has so far spent P2 billion for the food packs distributed to typhoon survivors.

Yolanda (international name Haiyan) killed 6,201 people, according to the January 29, 2014 report of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

About 1.1 million houses were either damaged or destroyed, displacing 4.1 million people across Visayas.

According to the US Embassy, the US Government has now provided P3.9 billion in humanitarian assistance to the typhoon survivors. Food accounted for over P890 million.

“In addition to the immediate relief and recovery assistance, the US Government will also support the Government of the Philippines in its medium and long-term recovery efforts,” the embassy said.

The WFP and the DSWD will coordinate with each other for the distribution of the rice assistance.

The DSWD will identify the areas that are most in need of rice. Identified households will get 10 kilos of rice per household member.

Nyangara said the US Government’s contribution accounted for more than a quarter of the WFP’s overall operation.

“The US donation allowed WFP to meet the diverse and changing needs of typhoon survivors from the first days of the response, when we needed to get nutritious food out quickly, until now as we support rebuilding and recovery efforts,” he said.

The WFP has reached out to 2.9 million typhoon survivors, providing them food and cash aid. It has distributed 28,000 metric tons of food.

It received $10.1 million from the USaid for the purchase of 2,400 metric tons of rice in the Philippines and 40 metric tons of high energy biscuits. It received another $10 million for recovery efforts, which include food and cash-for-work programs.

The WFP is also working with the Food and Agriculture Organization in rebuilding
livelihoods in hard-hit areas.

As foreign aid pours, non-government organizations (NGOs) in Cebu also continue to help the survivors.

Catherine Ruiz, network coordinator of Kaabag sa Sugbo Foundation, told reporters yesterday that their network, composed of 28 NGOs, continue to provide psycho-social programs and help with the reconstruction of damaged houses and schools.

One of its members, Pagtambayayong Foundation Inc., is working in three municipalities in the northern Cebu, doing mangrove reforestation and cash-for-work program for the survivors.

Pagtambayayong is also rebuilding houses in Camotes Island.

Another member NGO, Lihok Pilipina Foundation, also sent volunteers to conduct psycho-social sessions with typhoon survivors.

Ruiz said Lihok Pilipina immediately went to northern Cebu towns after conducting psychosocial work for earthquake survivors in Bohol.

The Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (Rafi), also a member of Kaabag sa Sugbo, is focusing on the rehabilitation and reconstruction of damaged and destroyed schools in the north, Ruiz added.

Aside from their rehabilitation work, Kaabag sa Sugbo is planning to coordinate with a regional network of NGOs to create a “relief map” for post-Yolanda work.

The map would serve as a guide for NGOs that want to help in the relief and rehabilitation efforts in areas affected by the typhoon.

Ruiz, whose group organized a forum on mainstreaming disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation at the University of Southern Philippines (USP) yesterday, said that they organized the seminar as a way for NGOs to create a framework when it comes to disaster response.

NGOs and private individuals and groups contributed significantly in the relief and rehabilitation of Eastern Visayas and northern Cebu after Yolanda. (Sun.Star Cebu)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 28, 2014.

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