World | Philippines

Philippines typhoon: UN steps up efforts to rebuild lives

UNDP had been at the centre of efforts to help Haiyan-devastated areas

  • By Gilbert P. Felongco, Correspondent
  • Published: 16:00 March 27, 2014
  • Gulf News

Manila: As local and international agencies wind down relief work after typhoon Haiyan in Central Philippines, the United Nations Development Programme has intensified efforts to bring life back to normal for those affected by the storm.

“At UNDP, we are now moving to the next stages of recovery to support the authorities’ roll out plans for improved resilience to disaster and for rehabilitation of livelihoods, services, and infrastructure,” Helen Clark, Administrator of the development agency said.

The UNDP had been at the centre of efforts to help Haiyan-devastated areas back on its feet four months after the super typhoon caused massive damage and loss of lives in at least four provinces. At least 5,260 people were killed and more than two million homes were damaged when the disaster struck last November 8, 2013.

Clark, who was Prime Minister of New Zealand from 1999 to 2008, visited communities in Tacloban and nearby areas over the past two days.

At the San Jose Central Elementary School in Tacloban, she talked with children and parents who lost relatives in the typhoon, a statement from the UN-attached agency said.

“We can see how deep the scars are in people’s hearts,” Clark said. “But we are also seeing recovery. This is a tribute to the resilience of the people and the determination of the authorities and the support that has come to get things moving again,” she said.

Restoring livelihoods forms the core of the UNDP’s planned three-year Haiyan recovery programme to ensure that people do not fall deeper into poverty as a result of the November 2013 disaster.

The UNDP has provided cash-for-work opportunities that have benefited nearly 40,000 people to date. Among the efforts by the agency to help people in the affected communities regain livelihood is to train them on work-intensive jobs such as masonry and carpentry — skills that they can use to rebuild their own homes and those in their community.

“Already more than 1,800 people have been trained in such skills as carpentry and masonry. At the same time, UNDP is working with local and national government to help restore basic services and lay the foundations for improved disaster management systems,” the agency said.

New Zealand, under Clark’s leadership, achieved significant economic growth — low levels of unemployment, and high levels of investment in education and health, and in the well-being of families and older citizens.

While serving the capacity as UNDP Administrator, Clark is also Chair of the United Nations Development Group which consists of all UN organisations working on development issues.

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