Philippines launches US$8b plan to rebuild lives shattered by Haiyan

Appeal for foreign and private-sector aid to help homeless, and strengthen defences

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 18 December, 2013, 4:57pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 18 December, 2013, 10:56pm

The Philippine government launched an US$8.17 billion plan on Wednesday to rebuild the lives of millions battered by Super Typhoon Haiyan.

President Benigno Aquino appealed for international assistance and private sector pledges to help his government rehabilitate hundreds of devastated communities and increase their resilience to natural disasters as well as the adverse impacts of climate change.

“The task immediately before us lies in ensuring that the communities that rise again do so stronger, better and more resilient than before,” he told foreign diplomats and aid officials in a speech at the launch of the initiative.

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

Haiyan left nearly 8,000 people dead or missing after it struck the central islands on November 8, wrecking more than a million houses with 315 kilometres per hour winds and giant tsunami-like waves created by storm surges.

Aquino said the typhoon, one of the strongest to ever hit land and already the second-deadliest natural disaster in the history of the storm-prone Philippines, caused US$12.9 billion in damage and destruction.

The economic planning department said the government’s rehabilitation plan called for spending 360.9 billion pesos (HK$63.2 billion) over a four-year-period until 2017, according to the document released on Wednesday.

Donors will be asked to put up some of the costs, it said, but no breakdown was given.

In his speech, Aquino thanked the global community for the outpouring of support for the typhoon victims. But he stressed there was still much more work to do.

“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.

He said the plan involves both meeting immediate as well a longer-term needs as the devastated communities attempt to get back to normal, with food aid expected to be needed until March 2014 at the latest.

“From now until December next year we will be preoccupied with critical immediate investments such as the rebuilding and repair of infrastructure and the construction of temporary houses,” he said.

“Large investments will be spread over multiple years and will hopefully be completed by 2017 if not earlier.”

The United Nations this week also launched a US$791 million aid appeal to take care of the survivors’ needs over the next 12 months.

The United States will provide an additional US$25 million in humanitarian aid to the Philippines for typhoon relief, raising to US$86 million its assistance to its major ally, US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Wednesday.

“It is really quite stunning, it looks like a war zone in every respect, and in many ways, for a lot of people, it is,” Kerry told reporters outside a tent city built by US forces in Tacloban City, where about 86 per cent of the dead were from.

“This is a devastation that is unlike anything I have seen on this scale. It’s many tornadoes that I have seen in America wrapped into one,” said Kerry, who is in the Philippines for the first time as secretary of state.

The Philippines and the United States have been negotiating a new security agreement allowing wider and more prolonged access for the US military in its former colony.

Kerry also said US firms Citigroup, Coca Cola, and Procter and Gamble were helping with recovery efforts, with Coke and P&G helping shops repair and restock their shelves in typhoon-hit areas.