Ambassador Libran N. Cabactulan, Philippine Permanent Representative to the United Nations, New York co-chaired a briefing for donor countries organized by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) on its US$65 million recovery program in the Philippines dubbed “Typhoon Yolanda Recovery and Resilience in the Visayas” (TRRV).
Donors represented at the briefing include Australia, Canada Denmark, European Union, Finland, Indonesia, Japan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Russia, South Korea, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
Designed to contribute to the Philippine Government’s Reconstruction Assistance on Yolanda (RAY), TRRV is a comprehensive framework for UNDP’s support to recovery and resilience in five programming hubs: Tacloban, Guian, Ormoc, Northern Cebu and Roxas. It aims to meet some of the immediate early recovery needs of the affected population and critical recovery intervention needed to support the country to bridge from early recovery to rehabilitation, while establishing conditions for long-term recovery, resilience and sustainable development.
This three-year program revolves around three thematic pillars: governance; livelihoods; and disaster risk reduction and sustainable environment.
With him as co-chair was UNDP Associate Administrator Rebecca Grynspan, who said that “The Philippines a good example to follow in the future” because of the system it has placed across the board from humanitarian response to early recovery and rehabilitation.
While citing UNDP’s significant achievements on the ground, particularly in debris clearing, waste management , and cash for work program, Ms. Grynspan warned that as has been the case in past appeals, early recovery remains an underfunded component in disaster response. “Because of other crises, like those in Africa, we tend to forget past crisis,” she said. She therefore urged the donor community to continue supporting the Philippines in its effort to build back better and forge a resilient future for its people.
In thanking UNDP and beseeching abiding support from donors, Ambassador Cabactulan stressed the importance of moving quickly during the crucial recovery and reconstruction stages in the affected areas. He expressed hope that “all foreign assistance will dovetail their designs with RAY” which provides the framework for recovery and reconstruction interventions over the short and medium term. This is essential to foster coordination of all available support to address the crisis, he added.
Considering all the moneys coming in for this purpose, he also underscored the need to maintain accountability and transparency during the entire process to ensure that funds are used appropriately to realize program outputs.
On the question raised by Canada on the number of schools affected by Yolanda, Ambassador Cabactulan referred to the Department of Education’s report that more than 4,500 classrooms need replacement which requires a budget of around 4 billion pesos. In this context, he noted the value of UNDP’s recovery bridge program as it takes time for the national government to gather all the necessary funds in the aftermath of a major disaster.He said that aside from borrowing money from financial institutions, like the Asian Development Bank and World Bank, mobilization of domestic resources is also very important if only for the country to pursue its recovery and reconstruction program according to its timeframe.