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Philippines: Philippines vows action on Haiyan rebuilding after UN criticism

16 hours 9 min ago
Source: Agence France-Presse Country: Philippines

Manila, Philippines | AFP | Sunday 8/2/2015 - 05:55 GMT

The Philippines on Sunday vowed to take further action to aid those displaced by deadly Super Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, following UN criticism that the government's response so far had been "inadequate".

President Benigno Aquino's spokesman Herminio Coloma said the government was not merely trying to find new housing for those displaced by the storm, which was the most powerful ever recorded to have hit land, but was also trying to ensure they would be relocated to safer ground.

"This is our committment: the government will continue its effort to help these internally displaced persons, particularly regarding setting up permanent, safe and decent housing," he told reporters.

"Additionally, we hope to help them find suitable livelihood and jobs so they can further recover from the calamity," Coloma added.

His remarks came after UN special rapporteur Chaloka Beyani said that the government had not done enough for those left homeless by Haiyan, which flattened whole towns and left about 7,350 dead or missing when it swept through the central Philippines in November 2013.

Roughly 2,000 families have been forced to relocate to evacuation camps with many living in shanties, often without power or water, the report and social welfare officials have said.

Coloma said that in the 2016 budget, the government had allocated more money to setting up new communities for those affected by Haiyan as well as those displaced by fighting with Muslim rebels in the south.

He did not specify how much money was going to victims of Haiyan.

President Benigno Aquino has budgeted 160 billion pesos ($3.6 billion) to rebuild after Haiyan, considered as one of the major tests of his six-year term that will end in June next year.

The Philippines is one of the world's most disaster-prone countries, at risk from earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and an average 20 typhoons yearly.

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© 1994-2015 Agence France-Presse

Philippines: Statement of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons, Chaloka Beyani, on the conclusion of his official visit to the Philippines, 21 to 31 July 2015

31 July 2015 - 11:39pm
Source: UN Human Rights Council Country: Philippines

At the invitation of the Government of the Philippines I conducted an official visit between 21 and 31 July 2015. At the outset I would like to sincerely thank the Government of the Philippines for its cooperation with my mandate during the preparation and conduct of my visit. The following statement represents only my preliminary findings based on my ten day visit and wide consultations with different stakeholders, both governmental and non-governmental, including internally displaced persons themselves and some indigenous peoples at risk of displacement in different regions of the country. I would like to begin my comments by saying that no country can be fully prepared for the devastating impact of a disaster such as Typhoon Haiyan and the tragic loss of life and property that accompanied it. I offer my sincere condolences to the Government and to the people of the Philippines. My visit allowed me to witness first-hand the extraordinary efforts to rebuild devastated communities as well as the resilience of displaced persons which offers an example to us all.

The Government has much to be commended for with regard to its responses to Typhoon Haiyan. It has shown leadership and put in place institutional and policy structures and frameworks that have proved to be effective in the immediate crisis response period and as the national and local authorities and displaced persons alike began the difficult process of rebuilding shattered lives either in their former places of origin or in new displacement locations. Through this difficult and challenging time the Philippines has developed much valuable experience to share with the international community and with specific States in all regions that may be affected by similar crises. This experience can benefit us all as we collectively seek to strengthen our ability to prevent and respond to the effects of climate change related disasters that sadly seem to be ever more frequent.

Government policies, for example the ‘Build-Back-Better’ policy are designed not only to respond to disasters, but to mitigate against the effects of future climate change induced displacement in this region, which is prone to disasters. In Tacloban and Tanauan I was impressed by the efforts of the local government officials and with some of the transitional and permanent housing solutions that have been put in place and that recognize the need for IDPs to have good quality and appropriate shelter and housing that also allows them to maintain their livelihoods or transition to new livelihood options. Those whom I met expressed their general satisfaction with the shelter or housing and services provided to them, including the provision of healthcare services, education for their children and support for the development of livelihood activities. I was however concerned to learn of financial constraints on authorities that have impacted on their ability to move forward towards durable solutions for all those affected and to resolve immediate issues related to adequate provision of basic services. It is essential for national and local governments to sustain and, where necessary, enhance their activities to address both immediate needs and ensure durable solutions for IDPs.

Significant challenges for IDPs remain to be resolved in areas affected by Typhoon Haiyan. Some people have found themselves having to relocate two or more times since their initial displacement. Many families remain housed in collective “bunkhouses” that do not meet necessary minimum standards for the provision of basic needs and services and create numerous safety and protection challenges, particularly for women and girls who face threats including sexual abuse and early pregnancy, as well as failing to provide conditions of privacy and dignity. IDPs in various areas pointed to a lack of adequate police presence which contributes to the overall feelings of increased insecurity given the nature of their shelter and conditions. Regrettably some families seem to have fallen through the protection safety net and remain living in substandard shelter in areas designated as ‘no-build’ or ‘hazardous’ due to the likelihood of future hazards. I was informed by IDPs and their representatives that, in both temporary and permanent housing, the provision of water, adequate sanitation and electricity remain seriously problematic. A common concern expressed to me was the need to increase the level of consultation and information flow to IDPs to ensure that their voices and concerns are heard and included in future planning and their rights respected.

While the Government is to be commended in terms of its immediate responses, its attention to ensuring sustainable durable solutions for IDPs remains inadequate to-date. I believe that profiling, a full needs assessment and verification exercise is required during this crucial transition period between early recovery and the attainment of durable solutions. I was concerned to learn that funding shortfalls and political challenges, including inadequate cooperation between national and local governments, are delaying processes towards achieving durable solutions. While infrastructure and public projects such as the building of flood defences in Tacloban are necessary and legitimate, the highest priority must continue to be given to securing durable housing that meet required standards and livelihood solutions for affected communities. Regrettably it appears that funding and attention to IDPs is waning. The national Government, together with its local Government partners must ensure that it follows through on the assistance that it has provided to-date to ensure that it truly meets the needs and rights of all those displaced.

The Draft Bill No. 4744 on Protecting the rights of Internally Displaced Persons has been under discussion for more than a decade and the second attempt to have it passed remains in the hands of the Senate. Previously adopted in 2013, a version of the draft law was subsequently vetoed by the President on the grounds of some elements being unconstitutional or requiring further clarification. As the technicalities concerning this proposed law seem to have been resolved, it is urgent to pass this Bill into law at the earliest opportunity witthout further delay. For the Philippines, which is both prone to disasters and enduring the effects of long-standing conflicts, it is particularly important to enshrine the rights of IDPs in domestic law. Not to do so sends a wrong signal about the commitment of the Government to ensuring the rights of IDPs, whether displaced by natural disaster, conflict or development and withholds essential legal protection from them. If passed the Bill would constitute a landmark national law, based on the UN 1998 Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement and best practices. It would provide a valuable domestic legal elaboration of the rights of internally displaced persons and the primary responsibility of the Government to protect them. It would help to remove existing administrative gaps, obstacles and uncertainties and establish criminal responsibility for acts of arbitrary displacement by both State and non-State actors.

My visit was to address not only displacement caused by disasters, but also other forms of displacement around the country. In this context I visited Zamboanga in Mindanao where people remain displaced following the 2013 clash between a faction of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and government security forces which resulted in approximately 120,000 displaced persons. I visited a number of transitional settlements as well as newly constructed permanent housing for the return of some affected communities. I note some important progress by the authorities including a Code of Beneficiaries Policy, creation of some permanent housing and progress towards durable solutions for some displaced communities. Nevertheless I am concerned by some issues including the closure of the Grandstand, where families had taken refuge after the crisis, just priort to my visit without ensuring adequate housing solutions for some families who did not want to move to transitional shelter and wished to return to their original locations. The designation of ‘no-build’ and ‘no-return’ areas on the grounds of disaster risk reduction has further restricted return to some locations.

The main transitional site of Mampang is problematic on many levels. It lacks adequate provision of water, electricity, adequate access to essential and basic services including health care and education. There are regular reports of security incidents and it is located at a considerable distance from the city and IDPs places of origin making access to livelihoods extremely difficult. For these reasons Mampang must not be considered a long-term solution for the IDPs. Permanent housing must be finalised urgently and it must be equipped with basic utilities and accessible to adequate services, security and comply with national building standards and codes. The Government must ensure that its responses do not differentiate against any displaced community on the basis of their identity or belonging to a minority community and fully respect the right to freedom of movement.

Initiatives to provide permanent housing must also take into account the wishes of IDP communities in regard to location, materials and access to livelihoods, for example access to the sea for fishing-based communities. I was informed that some indigenous fishing communities had had their homes damaged or destroyed during the military operations. While eventually being able to return to their locations, they have yet to receive support from the Government to rebuild their houses or re-establish their livelihoods in fishing and seaweed farming. Families who returned to the area of Lupa Lupa from the Grandstand are in a particularly perilous situation lacking adequate shelter and basic assistance and their needs should be immediately addressed. Equally the authorities have not recognized many families as legitimate or ‘tagged’ IDPs from conflict areas with serious implications for continuing assistance and support for those families. I urge all relevant authorities to take an inclusive approach and to ensure adequate housing, services and support for all, without discrimination.

I visited Cotabato City and had hoped to visit various areas in Maguindanao which have long been affected by conflict induced displacement. Regrettably, security issues and Government sensitivities in this region limited my access to the locations that I had wished to visit in Maguindanao. On-going conflict between the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and non-State armed groups in the region repeatedly cause both large and smaller-scale displacement. Some described the situation as a “forgotten crisis” and noted the frequency and nature of the displacement and that responses by both national and regional government authorities were routinely inadequate. For many in this region displacement has become the the pattern of life. The UN and other international actors have insufficient resources and little capacity to respond adequately to the situation in the region. A viable, inclusive and comprehensive peace process is essential to removing the causes of displacement and to stabilizing the situation in the region. Adoption of the Bangsamoro Basic Law, intended to establish the Bangsamora political entity in the country and replace the existing Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, may also assist in this regard. In the meantime the humanitarian responses of the Government must be strengthened in order for IDPs to benefit from stronger assistance and protection.

Indeed it was evident to me that the Government’s response to conflict-induced displacement in locations such as Zamboanga and Cotabato differs significantly to its commendable response to disaster and climate change induced displacement elsewhere as evident in the condition of some of the transitional and permanent shelter options provided to IDPs. I was struck by the disparity between the permanent housing established in Tacloban and that of Zamboanga. It is essential that the Government ensures that the National Housing Authority provides equitable and comparable permanent housing as a component of durable solutions for all IDPs across the country.

I also visited Koronadal and Tampakan in South Cotabato Province in order to consult on an issue of potential displacement due to a proposed open-pit mining project in Tampakan. It is reported that this project would lead to the displacement of over 5000 individuals, the majority of whom are indigenous peoples, from their recognized ancestral lands if it goes ahead. The project has been put on hold by the Governor of South Cotabato and the indigenous communities expressed their fear that the project would eventually proceed despite their objections and desire to remain on their ancestral lands. They expressed frustration that consultation processes, including a process of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) had not been conducted transparently, was not fully inclusive of their chosen tribal leaders nor had it taken adequate account of their broader views and rights to the land and to the maintenance of their indigenous cultures and lifestyles. It is important to emphasize that the legitimate concerns and rights of indigenous peoples must not be side-lined but should be given the upmost priority as indicated in the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA). The Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement require a threshold of "compelling and overriding public interest” in order for development-induced displacement to take place. This does not appear to be apparent in this case. I was alarmed that tribal leaders reported that their communities were consistently being manipulated and divided and that they had been harassed and received threats when they expressed their opposition. Indeed some leaders and members of the indigenous communities have been killed over the past years reportedly due to their anti-mining activities.

It was striking to me that indigenous peoples have been particularly vulnerable to conflict-induced displacement in many regions, particularly in Mindanao. For example, I am concerned by the plight of some 700 indigenous peoples currently living in basic Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) church run facilities in the city of Davao having been displaced from their ancestral homes for several months due to long-standing conflict between the government and the New People’s Army (NPA) in their region. I travelled to Davao to consult the national and local authorities and the indigenous peoples themselves on this situation. I heard from the AFP its assertion that it is seeking to protect the communities and provide services to them in conflict regions; however the displaced IPs made it clear that it is their presence and that of the paramilitary groups in their communities that continues to create anxiety amongst the indigenous communities. The community wishes to return to its lands but stressed to me that they will only feel safe to do so if the long-term militarization of their region comes to an end and they can return with guarantees of safety, dignity and protection. They described to me their concerns including their alleged forced recruitment into paramilitary groups, known as Alamara, under the auspices of the AFP and harassment in the context of the on-going conflict between the AFP and the NPA. Schools have reportedly been closed and/or occupied by the AFP or Alamara, hampering the access to education of indigenous children. While tribal leaders informed me that they are not being detained against their will at the UCCP centre in Davao, as is evident by reports of their periodic return to their communities, their current situation is neither acceptable nor sustainable. It is essential to find a rapid and peaceful solution to their situation in full consultation with their legitimate leaders, with their voluntary and secure return to their ancestral lands being a high priority. I urge the Government, in consultation with indigenous peoples themselves, to give greater attention to addressing the causes of displacement whether it be due to the militarization of their areas or due to development projects.

This situation clearly demonstrates the massive and potentially irreversible impact of the on-going conflicts on displacement of such vulnerable communities who are often caught up in the conflict and suspected of involvement with armed groups. Displacement, whether due to conflict or development, not only destroys the homes and livelihoods of indigenous peoples, but has an incalculable impact on their cultures and ways of life that are part of the rich and diverse heritage of the Philippines that must be protected or otherwise lost, perhaps forever. Indigenous peoples are poorly equipped to survive away from their ancestral lands and are therefore deeply affected by displacement. The needs of these vulnerable people must be assessed, with their full participation, so as to provide essential assistance for them, including durable solutions which are culturally sensitive and appropriate, when displacement has taken place. The displacement of such communities whose very lives and cultures are intimately entwined with their ancestral lands and environments must only be a matter of last resort. It is clear to me that existing legislation and institutions, including the exemplary Indigenous Peoples Rights Act cannot provide adequate protection from displacement unless fully implemented in practice. Specific provisions on the rights of indigenous peoples should be included in the IDP Law currently under consideration.

In conclusion I would like once again to thank the Government of the Philippines for its cooperation with my mandate. My full report and recommendations based on my visit will be presented to the Government and to the Human Rights Council at its 32nd session in June 2016. In the meantime I look forward to continuing my constructive dialogue with the Government and to identifying areas of practical engagement. I would also like to thank the United Nations Office of the Resident Coordinator, OHCHR, UNHCR, UNICEF and OCHA amongst other UN agencies for their work to facilitate my visit in all respects. I am also grateful to the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines and the many civil society organizations that provided information to me and assisted me in the course of my visit. Not least I wish to thank the many internally displaced persons and their leaders and representatives who took the time to travel and meet with me, conveying their stories, challenges and hopes for the future.

Philippines: Philippines Haiyan rebuilding 'inadequate', says UN

31 July 2015 - 11:39pm
Source: Agence France-Presse Country: Philippines

Manila, Philippines | AFP | Saturday 8/1/2015 - 03:32 GMT

The Philippines has not done enough to rebuild after Super Typhoon Haiyan, as thousands remain in shanties without power or water for nearly two years, a United Nations representative said Saturday.

Many storm survivors in the central region have had to endure relocating to evacuation camps up to three times since Haiyan struck in 2013, and the sub-standard housing leaves them vulnerable to future typhoons, said Chaloka Beyani, UN special rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons.

"While the government is to be commended in terms of its immediate responses, its attention to ensuring sustainable durable solutions for IDPs (internally displaced persons) remains inadequate to date," Beyani said in a statement posted on the UN website.

Beyani was in the Philippines in late July to check on the government's handling of people displaced by Haiyan and by fighting between the military and Muslim rebels in the south.

Aside from falling short of safety standards, the wood-and-tin "bunkhouses" also leave women and girls vulnerable to sexual abuse and early pregnancy, Beyani said.

The box-like shanties also rob the storm survivors of their "privacy and dignity" as they struggle to rebuild their lives, he said.

Haiyan, the most powerful storm ever recorded to hit land, wiped out entire communities and left 7,350 dead or missing when it struck the impoverished central islands in November 2013.

Roughly 2,000 families remain in the bunkhouses as well as in palm-thatch temporary homes, said Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman.

The government aims to move 70 percent of the 2,000 into permanent concrete homes by year-end, she said.

"We are aware of the need to fast-track the permanent shelters, but there are constraints," Soliman told AFP.

Soliman said the lack of power and running water in some areas was due to local governments' unpaid utility bills.

An increase in land prices also delayed the construction of permanent homes as land owners cashed in on government demand, she said.

President Benigno Aquino has budgeted 160 billion pesos ($3.6 billion) to rebuild after Haiyan, considered as one of the major tests of his six-year term that will end in June next year.

The Philippines is one of the world's most disaster-prone countries, at risk from earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and an average 20 typhoons yearly.

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© 1994-2015 Agence France-Presse

Philippines: FAO support enables farmers in Maguindanao province to participate in the cropping season

30 July 2015 - 2:34pm
Source: Food and Agriculture Organization Country: Philippines

Agriculture-dependent families in Maguindanao are still reeling from the residual impacts of conflict, drought and flooding that affected the province during the first half of 2015. In order to meet the first cropping season of the year, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) launched emergency response efforts that will enable farmers to seize the small window of opportunity to replant their farms, and avoid at least eight more months without sufficient food and income.

“We were in an evacuation centre for about three months. This [displacement] had a huge effect on us farmers. We had to leave our farms and backyard gardens. Our crops were destroyed by drought. We were not able to sell most of our livestock as they died either of hunger or disease,” recalled Tuka Sumalay, a farmer from Tapikan, Shariff Aguak.

Tuka is one of more than 125 000 people uprooted across the 15 municipalities of Maguindanao when hostilities broke out between the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and the Government in February. Re-establishing a sense of normalcy has been a challenge for the majority of the population, who rely on farming as their primary source of livelihood. Farmers had no choice but to abandon their ready-to-harvest crops as they fled to safer grounds. Upon returning to their homes, they had not only lost their productive farm assets such as tools, small machinery and animals, but were also confronted by a dry spell, followed by flooding caused by torrential rains and overflowing rivers and tributaries.

The Department of Agriculture estimates that crop and vegetable production losses in Maguindanao have reached more than 24 000 metric tonnes as a result of these natural and human-induced disasters.

To support the Government in responding to farmers’ most time-critical needs for agriculture inputs, FAO allocated USD 470 000 to help 5 000 farming households (25 000 individuals) in Maguindanao and North Cotabato provinces resume production of rice, corn and vegetables.

“We are working closely with the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao to enable affected farmers to get back on their feet at the soonest possible opportunity. The restoration of livelihoods and agricultural production in a timely manner is a crucial first step to restoring food security in the area,” said FAO Representative in the Philippines José Luis Fernandez.

Through the project, FAO will distribute a total of 1 410 sacks of rice seeds, 3 590 sacks of corn seeds, as well as vegetable seeds, fertilizer and hand tools. FAO will also conduct workshops and training activities that will help beneficiaries improve their farm productivity while strengthening their capacity to cope with future shocks and emergencies.

“We started the distribution of inputs with an initial 350 sacks of rice seeds, vegetable seeds and fertilizer delivered to farmers in Shariff Aguak and Datu Unsay municipalities,” said FAO Project Manager and Farming System Specialist Cesar Galvan. “This first tranche will cover approximately 175 ha of farmlands and yield at least 612.5 metric tonnes of palay or unmilled rice. Beneficiaries will also be able to plant lowland vegetables that can be harvested within 21 to 30 days.”

“Had FAO not come to help us on time, I would have been forced to sacrifice my children’s schooling so that I could buy fertilizer and seeds. This project is helping us a great deal. We are very thankful,” said Misuari Aba Usman of Datu Unsay Municipality.

FAO is also working with other development partners and Government agencies to help restore the livelihoods of an additional 10 000 farmers and fisherfolk affected by armed encounters in other parts of central and western Mindanao. These efforts are part of the Organization’s larger goal of strengthening the agriculture sector and food security in the Philippines.

World: The Effect of Gender Equality Programming on Humanitarian Outcomes

30 July 2015 - 12:54pm
Source: Institute of Development Studies, UN Women Country: Kenya, Nepal, Philippines, World

New IDS study shows impacts of gender equality programming

30 July 2015

Most aid practitioners agree that the integration of gender equality programming into humanitarian action is a good thing, but until now there has been little by way of solid evidence to demonstrate its impact. However, new research led by the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) and commissioned by UN Women has confirmed the positive affect that gender equality programming can have on humanitarian outcomes, and proposes ways to further enhance the impact.

Researchers analysed evidence on the effects of gender equality programming by surveying more than 2,000 crisis-affected households and organising focus groups in four case-study locations: Nepal, the Philippines and two sites in Kenya (the county of Turkana and the Dadaab refugee camps). Information was collected from women and men – as well as key informants, such as humanitarian workers and community leaders – in the target communities to determine if the gender-equality programming improved their humanitarian outcomes and, if so, how.

According to the report, improved gender equality programming in humanitarian settings led not only to improved quality of life for all community members, but also to greater access to services, better identification of the needs of beneficiaries, and heightened empowerment and aspirations among young women.

In addition to all the humanitarian outcomes of gender-targeted programming, an improvement in gender equality could also be measured. In the Philippines, Nepal and Turkana, women reported greater decision-making power and agency when humanitarian services were perceived as being gender-equal; while in Dadaab, placing women in leadership roles in the implementation of humanitarian services promoted greater empowerment of women and increased the aspirations of young girls.

The study also provides guidance on how to best blend gender equality programming and humanitarian interventions to increase effectiveness in the future. Promoting awareness of gender equality programming, embracing men and boys as participants and facilitating economic empowerment were all demonstrated to have the potential to make humanitarian action more effective for all those affected.

A new approach to measuring impact

The study is the first of its kind in that it provides qualitative and quantitative evidence on the impact of gender equality programming on the effectiveness and inclusiveness of humanitarian aid.

As well a detailed qualitative review of how GEP was being received by women and girls in these communities – a mix of protracted conflict, refugee and rural settings - the team also created a new indexing tool to quantitatively measure the extent of gender equality programming and its outcomes.

The new GEP index tool measures how satisfied women are with humanitarian aid, their perceived ability to influence programming, their appraisal of the level of gender equality in the programmes, and the proportion of programmes that women felt met their needs.

‘IASC’s Gender Marker indicates how well-designed a project is, but by capturing on-the-ground feedback during the implementation phase of the project the GEP Index allows us to be more accountable to the ultimate beneficiaries’, said the project’s co-leader IDS Fellow, Jean-Pierre Tranchant.

The model is still under development but it has the potential to help measure GEP impact in humanitarian settings on a much wider scale.

The findings represent an important step forward in gender thinking ahead of an expected review of the IASC’s Gender Marker and the wider GEP debate at next year’s World Humanitarian Summit.

World: The Market Monitor - Trends and impacts of staple food prices in vulnerable countries, Issue 28 - July 2015

30 July 2015 - 11:02am
Source: World Food Programme Country: Afghanistan, Armenia, Bangladesh, Benin, Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cabo Verde, Cambodia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Colombia, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guatemala, Guinea, Haiti, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mexico, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, occupied Palestinian territory, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Thailand, Togo, Turkey, United Republic of Tanzania, Viet Nam, World, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Highlights

· FAO’s global cereal price index continued to fall in Q2-2015, down 19 percent year-on-year.

· The real price of wheat dropped a further 9 percent over the last quarter. Prices are 33 percent lower than in Q2-2014, thanks to increased global supply and lower consumption.

· The real price of maize has fallen by 3 percent since Q1-2015 and is 21 percent lower than inQ2-2014. However, global production for 2015/16 is set to be lower and thus prices are likely to rise.

· The real price of rice has dropped 10 percent since Q1-2015 and is 8 percent lower than last year. Global rice production for 2015/16 is expected to be higher than last year.

· If the negative El Niño predictions hold true on a wide scale, international food prices as well as domestic prices in the affected countries are expected to rise.

· In Q2-2015, the real price of crude oil rose by 15 percent compared to Q1-2015 but prices are still 43 percent lower than during the same period in 2014.

· The cost of the minimum food basket increased severely (>10%) during Q2-2015 in eight countries: Kenya, Malawi, South Sudan, Syria, Tanzania, Uganda, Yemen and Zambia. High increases (5–10%) were seen in Burundi, CAR, Chad, Colombia, Lebanon and Sierra Leone. In the other 55 monitored countries, the change was low or moderate (<5%).

· Price spikes, as monitored by ALPS (Alert for Price Spikes), are evident in Chad, India, Ghana, Malawi, South Sudan, Sudan, Yemen and Zambia. These spikes indicate crisis levels for at least one of the two most important staples in the country, whether they are cassava meal, maize, millet, rice, wheat or sorghum.

Myanmar: The 2015 Rainfall Season: East Asia (July 2015)

30 July 2015 - 10:54am
Source: World Food Programme Country: Afghanistan, China, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, India, Indonesia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Philippines, Viet Nam

Highlights

· The growing season of May-October 2015 in east Asia is unfolding under an evolving El Nino event that will peak in late 2015.

· Below average rainfall has been the dominant feature of the 2015 season across East Asia, particularly from Myanmar across to southern Vietnam, where noticeable delays in the onset of the agricultural growing season have already been detected.

· After a timely and wetter than average start of the monsoon season, India has been affected by rainfall deficits from late June onwards. Stronger impacts are so far being felt in the western half of the country.

· Drier than average conditions and poor vegetation cover are also affecting the Korean peninsula and northeast China. In DPRK, this adds to the effects of a significantly drier than average season in 2014.

· In contrast, Afghanistan and Pakistan have so far enjoyed a favourable rainfall season, with high rainfall in the Pakistani highlands ensuring adequate irrigation.

· Seasonal forecasts indicate drier than average conditions for the August-October rainfall in India and southeast Asia.

· Much drier than average conditions are forecast for Indonesia, potentially leading to negative impacts on the main agricultural season starting in late 2015.

World: GIEWS Update: El Niño in Asia, 29 July 2015

29 July 2015 - 9:27pm
Source: Food and Agriculture Organization Country: Cambodia, China, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, India, Indonesia, Lao People's Democratic Republic (the), Philippines, Thailand, Viet Nam, World

El Niño in Asia: Prolonged dry weather in several countries affecting plantings and yield potential of the 2015 main season food crops

  • Prolonged dry weather associated with El Niño has impaired the production outlook for the ongoing 2015 main season in several countries, including Cambodia, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, the Philippines and Viet Nam

  • Although rains improved somewhat in the second dekad of July in parts, more rains are essential in the coming weeks to avoid a significant decrease in the 2015 cereal production in these countries

  • Elsewhere in the region, prospects for the 2015 main rice crops remain overall favourable so far

  • Forecasts pointing to a continuation of El Niño conditions until the winter months of 2016 have also raised concerns for the forthcoming 2015/16 secondary cropping seasons, to be planted from October onwards

Philippines: Philippines: Typhoon Hagupit DREF Operation final report (MDRPH016)

29 July 2015 - 5:40am
Source: International Federation of Red Cross And Red Crescent Societies Country: Philippines

Summary

The Philippine Red Cross (PRC), through its wide network of chapters and volunteers across the country, has responded to the immediate needs of people affected by Typhoon Hagupit. Around 1,500 PRC staff and volunteers were mobilized along with the following humanitarian assistance supported by IFRC, Red Cross Red Crescent Movement partners and other bilateral donors.

PRC staff and volunteers also reached 13,828 people with psychosocial support in order to help the trauma felt by the affected population.

On behalf of the Philippine Red Cross, IFRC would like to thank those who contributed to the Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF). These include Austrian Red Cross, Canadian Red Cross/Canadian government, Danish Red Cross/Danish government, Japanese Red Cross Society, Monaco Red Cross/Monaco government, Netherlands Red Cross/Netherlands government, Norwegian Red Cross/Norwegian government, Swedish Red Cross/Swedish government,
European Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO), the governments of Australia,
Belgium, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America, the Medtronic and Z Zurich Foundations, and other corporate and private donors.

World: Developing strategies to strengthen the resilience of hotels to disasters: A scoping study to guide the development of the Hotel Resilient Initiative

29 July 2015 - 2:48am
Source: UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction Country: Indonesia, Maldives, Philippines, Thailand, World

UN Backs Disaster Resilience Plans for Hotels in Asia and the Pacific

29 July 2015, GENEVA – The head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), Margareta Wahlström, today announced a plan to develop and pilot disaster risk management standards for the hotel industry in Asia and the Pacific, home to 80% of the world’s disaster events.

Ms. Wahlström said: “The hotel industry in hazard prone areas of the world is very vulnerable to major setbacks from floods, storms and earthquakes. Such events can result in closure of resorts and have a significant impact on tourism and employment. The hotel industry has a very important role to play in encouraging disaster risk management at the local level.”

A joint study carried out by UNISDR, the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) and the Global Initiative on Disaster Risk Management (GIDRM) funded by the Federal Republic of Germany has found significant interest in setting such standards among hoteliers, tour operators, tourism bodies, government agencies and insurance companies in the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand and the Maldives.

The study was carried out for the Hotel Resilient Initiative which aims to develop internationally recognized standards for hotels and resorts that will assist them in reducing business risk and the risk of tourism destinations to natural and technological hazards, while demonstrating the level of preparedness and safety of their premises to potential clients, insurers and financers.

Ms. Wahlström said: “The report is telling us that there is concern about the lack of universal standards for disaster risk management across the hotel industry. One incentive is that insurance companies could envisage premium reductions for hotels that demonstrate that they are investing in disaster resilience in line with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction which has been adopted with enthusiasm by governments across the region. The standards will be developed together with the partners of the Hotel Resilient Initiative in the Philippines at the end of this year.”

PATA CEO, Mario Hardy, said: “Having standardized procedures accepted by the tourism industry seems to be increasingly important to hoteliers as there are none at the moment. These standards could even become a competitive advantage for hotels in the future if they were internationally recognized.”

World: Disasters, displacement, and climate change: New evidence and common challenges facing the north and south

28 July 2015 - 2:23pm
Source: Brookings Institution Country: Haiti, Philippines, United States of America, World

The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre recently released their annual Global Estimates of People Displaced by Disasters, which reports that almost 20 million people were newly displaced by sudden-onset disasters in 100 countries in 2014. Since 2008, an average of 26.4 million people have been displaced by disasters every year—equivalent to one person every second. Their careful analysis of regional and global trends (coupled with impressive infographics) is an important step forward in our understanding of how people’s lives are uprooted by disasters stemming from the effects of climate change. And for the first time ever, their report examines both people who were newly displaced by disasters and those who have been displaced for years. While there is an assumption that people who are forced to leave their homes because of floods or earthquakes will be able to return home quickly, the reality is different—as those affected by Hurricane Katrina can attest. Similar challenges for developed and developing nations

I was once again struck by the realization that rich and poor countries face similar challenges with respect to displacement caused by disasters. Today, the climate change negotiations seem to be stalled in tense north-south negotiations (for understandable reasons given the fact that some countries, such as Pacific Island countries that have contributed very little to global warming, will suffer disproportionately from the effects of climate change.) But when you shift the focus to look at disasters and displacement, it is clear that disasters affect people in all parts of our planet—from Miami to Manila, from Christchurch to Port-au-Prince—and that displacement has similar consequences for all affected people.

In all regions of the world, those who are poor and marginalized often suffer disproportionately from the effects of disasters, in part because they tend to live on marginal land and their houses are more weakly constructed. They are also less likely to own their homes, which means that it is less likely they are eligible for assistance to rebuild their homes.

A few years ago, I wrote about the similarities between governmental programs to assist those displaced by Hurricane Katrina and by the Haitian earthquake. In both cases, people were still displaced years after the disaster, and in both cases, the U.S. and Haitian governments turned to rental subsidies to meet the housing needs of particularly vulnerable groups. IDMC’s new study turns an eye to a more recent disaster, superstorm Sandy, reminding us—and hopefully policymakers—that there are still more than 30,000 people in the United States who have not yet found solutions to their displacement. Policymakers in developed and developing countries need to be proactive

Policymakers in both developed and developing countries are also going to be increasingly challenged by the need to relocate people to protect them from the effects of disasters. These planned relocations are already taking place. For example, the Philippines is presently working to permanently relocate a million or so people displaced by the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan in 2013. Communities in the U.S. have also been relocated following disasters, as highlighted in the National Building Museum’s current exhibit on “Designing for Disasters” where reference is made to the relocation of Valmeyer, Illinois. When this town was destroyed by flooding in 1993, the community was relocated to higher ground a few miles away.

While relocating communities may be necessary, it is always an extraordinarily complicated process. Governments of disaster-prone countries, including the U.S., would do well to start thinking and planning about relocations now, before the next major disaster occurs.

Both developed and developing countries are likely to face more displacement as a result of sudden-onset disasters in the future, particularly weather-related disasters which are most affected by climate change. Slow-onset disasters—such as drought and sea level rise—are also likely to force people, perhaps even more people, to leave their communities. The need to develop effective policies to prevent, respond to, and recover from displacement caused by disasters offers hope for new forms of north-south cooperation. Developed and developing countries can learn a lot from one another and work together to find solutions for those who continue to be displaced long after the crisis is over.

World: Global Emergency Overview Snapshot 22-28 July 2015

28 July 2015 - 8:31am
Source: Assessment Capacities Project Country: Afghanistan, Angola, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Colombia, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Guinea, Haiti, Honduras, Iraq, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Myanmar, Niger, Nigeria, occupied Palestinian territory, Pakistan, Philippines, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Uganda, Ukraine, World, Yemen

Snapshot 22–28 July 2015

Somalia: More than 10,000 people have been displaced in Lower Shabelle and Bay regions since AMISOM and Somali armed forces began their offensive. Al Shabaab has lost control of Bardhere in Gedo and Dinsoor in Bay. In accessible areas of Hudur town, Bakool, 33% GAM and 19% SAM were observed in a MUAC assessment in July – a significant deterioration since June. Very critical malnutrition rates persist in Bulo Burde, Hiraan.

DRC: Measles has broken out in Maniema, with 415 cases recorded so far. 2,115 cases have been reported in Orientale this year, and 15,000 in Katanga. One reason for the rise in cases is lack of vaccination. Dungu, in Haut-Uele, Orientale, has seen a significant fall in WASH coverage and routine vaccination.

South Sudan: The cholera outbreak continues, with 1,375 cases recorded since 18 May, most in Juba county. At 3.2%, the case fatality rate is double the global average. In Unity state, the government has prevented food aid reaching Malakal.

Updated: 28/07/2015. Next update 04/08/2015.

Philippines: USNS Mercy Crew Participate in Humanitarian Assistance Disaster Relief Seminar in Philippines

28 July 2015 - 3:33am
Source: Government of the United States of America Country: Japan, Philippines

By Chief Petty Officer Christopher Tucker | Navy Public Affairs Support Element West | July 27, 2015

ROXAS CITY, Philippines – Multinational crew members of the hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) wrapped up participation in a humanitarian assistance disaster relief (HADR) seminar July 24 hosted by Philippine government agencies at Capiz State University.

Dozens of stakeholders representing a diverse makeup of countries and organizations attended the weeklong event to better prepare all involved in responding to a natural disaster in the region.

“This was the first time that something like this has been done in the Philippines, where a whole region came together ” said U.S. Army Capt. John Karlsson, a civil affairs team leader. Representatives from six provinces and ten agencies from the Philippines were in attendance, including the Philippine National Police, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine Coast Guard, and multiple government agencies.

The seminar featured discussions from subject matter experts on lessons learned from HADR operations during the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan (known as Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines), a category 5 super typhoon, which cut across the central Philippines in 2013. The storm killed more than 6,000 people and caused more than $2 billion in damage.

“We cannot work alone as first responders. We need help in Antique,” said Leoderrick Benitez, a first responder who works for the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) for Antique. “For instance, in Typhoon Yolanda, we were very overwhelmed during that typhoon. We need some logistics resources and a network That’s why we are very grateful to work with people from all of these other countries.” Filipino first responders were taught how to use a vehicle extrication tool to safely remove crash victims from crushed vehicles. Through donations made by Project Handclasp, 10 extrication tool sets were distributed to PDRRMO teams.

“We were able to distribute this equipment, show some people some online videos, and give some hands-on training. We know that this is now going to save lives,” said Karlsson.

Members of the Japan Self Defense Force also provided a briefing on the disaster response efforts following the Great East Earthquake of Japan in March 2011.

“It was apparent during the workshop that our Japanese friends wanted to share their experiences. The one thing that they expressed was the difficulties that they had during the earthquake and tsunami,” said Giselle Grace Gerial, a representative from the Philippine Department of the Interior. “If I hadn’t interacted with them, I might have thought that the Philippines is behind compared to the things other countries are doing. But, after interacting with them I realized that we are actually on par in terms of planning, but our challenges lie in implementation of our plan.”

Pilots and air crewmen from U.S. Navy Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 21, “Blackjacks,” provided training on how to find and mark helicopter landing zones in the field. Also, the aircrew provided a take-off and landing demonstration, as well as familiarization flights at Capiz State University’s sports stadium.

“What we saw during the relief efforts after Typhoon Yolanda, was when a helicopter tries to land, so many people flocked to the helicopter landing zone,” said Karlsson. “It’s a problem across multiple agencies… What we were able to do is bring everyone together and talk about roles and responsibilities, and actually practice that.”

U.S. Navy and Royal Australian Navy medical personnel also provided training on how to respond to crushing injuries during a disaster scenario. However, probably the most valuable lesson learned during the seminar was learning to work together across multiple countries and agencies, said Karlsson.

“What we really did was get people to solve problems together,” he said. “The region was very interested in collaborating together as a whole. Just by putting all the right people in the room together, there were new ideas, and it showed people how to work together.”

Now in its tenth iteration, Pacific Partnership is the largest annual multilateral humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness mission conducted in the Indo-Asia-Pacific Region.

Mercy arrived in Roxas City July 18 and will depart Aug. 4 to transit to Subic Bay and continue its mission in the Philippines.

Additional information on the Pacific Partnership mission is available on the U.S. Pacific fleet Pacific Partnership website at www.cpf.navy.mil/pacific-partnership/2015/.

Philippines: Housing assistance in Pablo-hit towns

27 July 2015 - 10:25pm
Source: Government of the Philippines Country: Philippines

DAVAO ORIENTAL, July 27, 2015 - Some 1,010 housing beneficiaries in the typhoon Pablo-hit towns of Boston, Cateel, Baganga, and Caraga recently received certificate of occupancy to their new homes during the latest round of housing turn over here.

Implemented under the Modified Shelter Assistance Program (MSAP) of the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the Provincial Government, this massive housing project holds the promise of returning people quickly to their normal lives after the unprecedented disaster which laid waste their townsin 2012.

At the ceremonial turn over, Governor Corazon N. Malanyaon underscored the provincial government’s efforts in pushing for the housing program to become the national government’s first priority among all the lined up rehabilitation programs for typhoon Pablo victims. “For as long as typhoon victims are not settled in the security of their own homes, all other efforts in rehabilitation will become futile,” she said saying victims could not give their full attention to their works and livelihoods while worrying for a place where their familycan stay.

She further said that these new homes symbolize security and helps motivatetyphoon victims to develop by focusing on their work even more.

This latest batch of turned over housing units is part of the huge scale permanent housing project that aims the construction of permanent shelters intended for a total target of 19,880 households whose homes were totally damaged. MSAP’s implementation tapped funds from the DSWD while the site development for resettlement sites as well as the management of the program is carried out by the provincial government.

Under the MSAP, around 17,420 permanent housing units have already been implemented and turned over to the housing beneficiaries since 2013.

With only about 2,000 houses more to goin order to reach the total target in all the four affected towns, the provincial government assures to completeand turn over the remaining houses before the year ends.

Gemma dela Cruz, DSWD Provincial Coordinator, recognized the agency’s strong partnership with the provincial government saying that without its support it would be difficult for the DSWD to realize this huge task.

Typhoon victims here may have lost their houses but they say they remain hopeful and resilient, especially because theysee the government, particularly the provincial government’s efforts andcommitment to rebuild their lives.

With these newly built houses, they are now able to start life anew in the safety and comforts of their new homes.“I am very happy and my family is excited to move to our new house,” said one beneficiary in Cateel.

While these houses are built for free by the government, Governor Malanyaon emphasized beneficiaries have also their fair share of responsibilities to complement efforts of the government.

She pointed out that beneficiaries should take good care of these new homes as these will be handed down to their children and grandchildren.

“These homes and lots where these houses are built are given for free. We only ask of you to complement the government’s efforts by taking your part on responsible ownership,” she told the beneficiaries.(PIO Davao Oriental)

Philippines: Clean-up of Aklan river tributaries up

27 July 2015 - 10:21pm
Source: Government of the Philippines Country: Philippines

By Venus G. Villanueva

KALIBO, Aklan, July 28 (PIA6) -- The provincial government of Aklan, through its Aklan Rivers Development Council (ARDC), will be spearheading a clean-up drive of the Aklan River’s tributaries located in the municipalities of Libacao, Madalag, Malinao, Lezo, Banga, Numancia and Kalibo, Aklan on August 14, 2015.

This activity, to be joined by an estimated 1,000 participants, was set during a recent launching of the Mass-Based Disaster Risks Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation (DRR/CCA) Project at the Kusina Sa Kalibo organized by the Provincial Planning and Development Office (PPDO) here.

The project, according to Engr. Roger M. Esto, PPD Coordinator, will serve as the people’s contribution to help reduce the incidence of flooding/soil erosion; the community’s contribution to help protect/conserved and preserve the environment and in helping promote and enhance everyone’s participation to development and disaster risk management.

Flooding and soil erosion has been a perennial problem in Aklan for years, especially during the strong typhoons that occurred in the province which caused deaths, mostly by drowning, like in the case of Typhoon Frank with 52 deaths and 2 still missing as of this time, according to Galo Ibardolaza, Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) Executive Officer, who showed a PDRRMO presentation on the DRR/CCA at the launching.

The clean-up of Aklan tributaries is aimed to clear the waterways of debris so that water could flow smoothly when heavy rains come.

The activity was set in response to the latest pronouncement of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysicial and Astronomical Services (PAGASA) that the rainy season has already started and that 10 to 15 tropical cyclones may enter the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) from May to October this year.

During the clean-up, participants who are nearest to their areas will be the ones to clean the river tributaries as they are familiar with the places.

The Aklan River has tributaries in Libacao, Madalag, Malinao, Lezo, Banga, Kalibo and Numancia, the towns traversed by the Aklan River before it goes out to the sea.

Besides the members of the ARDC, PDRRMC, the MDRRMCs of the respective municipalities and provincial and municipal officials and employees, tapped to help in the clean-up are students of colleges and universities who are enrolled under the Civic Welfare Training Service (CWTS).

Meanwhile, as Executive Director of the ARDC, Atty. Allen S. Quimpo stressed the importance of the clean-up of the tributaries as this is very vital for Aklan, being always ravaged by typhoons, and called for effective measures for a community-based approach in disaster preparedness. (JCM/VGV PIA6 Aklan)

Philippines: Peace pact unites soldiers, Lumads

27 July 2015 - 9:53pm
Source: Government of the Philippines Country: Philippines

IMPASUGONG, Bukidnon, July 27 — The Indigenous People (IPs) — traditionally known as “Lumads”— of Impasugong and Cabanglasan towns, and the Philippine Army’s 8th Infantry (Dependable) Battalion of the 4th Infantry Division, launched a peace pact to condemn violence and raise strong commitment to promote peace in the province of Bukidnon.

In a ritual and peace pact dubbed “Panaghiusa hu mga kasundaluhan daw hu mga Lumad (unity of the soldiers and the indigenous peoples),” 71 tribal elders and leaders from the Higaonon, Talaandig and Umayamnon tribes along Kalabugao Plains, Mt. Kitanglad range of Impasugong, Upper Pulangui area of Malaybalay City, and the ancestral territories of Cabanglasan, all of Bukidnon, vowed to step up cooperation to bring in lasting solutions to conflicts so people could live peacefully and productively.

The tribal leaders have long sought for military and local government units’ (LGUs) help in their quest for lasting peace in ancestral territories that have been desecrated by the communist NPA rebels for a long time.

Lyco-Lyco Pintuan, one of the elders of the Higaonon tribe who recounted his ordeal with the rebels, expressed gratitude to the LGU and military’s response to the IP’s woes.

Pintuan said these insurgents violated the rights of the Lumads by building encampments, recruiting the IP youth, forcibly organizing the people as NPA supporters; subjecting them to forced taxation, compelling them unnecessarily to evacuate their territories and become Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and coercing them to join mass protests in town centers.

This sad fate of IPs prompted the military and the LGUs to ally with the tribes and resolve these issues in the hope of winning peace once more.

Among the highlights of the event was the acceptance and adoption of Lt. Col. Lennon G. Babilonia, the Commanding Officer of 8th Infantry Battalion, as “Datu Impamani (guardian of the Lumads),” by the elders, during a sacred ritual called “Pagdang-ul.”

In the acceptance rites, Higaonon tribal leader Pintuan said he is blissful and very much overwhelmed on the occasion.

“Many of our elders have been killed by the NPA in recent years, that’s why we live in fear. Our problems, particularly on security, made us hopeless. But now we have found new hope,” he said.

Lt. Col. Babilonia, now an adopted member of the elders of the tribe, showed his respect and honor to the Lumads.

“I am very much honored to be a part of the Lumads here in Bukidnon. My being a member of the tribe gives me and my men more responsibility in uplifting their rights and respecting their cultures and traditions. Our partnership will eventually be instrumental to fulfil our objective of winning peace for their safety and well-being; and for them to attain quality and progressive life,” he said. (Cpt Norman M Tagros (INF) Philippine Army/RLRB, PIA10-Bukidnon)

Philippines: Feature: Preemptive, quick disaster response makes PH agri resilient

27 July 2015 - 9:42pm
Source: Government of the Philippines Country: Philippines

QUEZON CITY, July 27 -- Aside from its regular programs on boosting productivity, the Department of Agriculture said it preemptive and quick disaster response mechanisms have enabled the agriculture sector become resilient from the adverse effects of calamities.

Agriculture Secretary Alcala in a statement said that for instance, despite considerable damage caused by typhoons on the industry, the country was able to attain in 2013 the highest rice harvest in history at 18.4 million metric tons.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) also reported that in 2013, the agriculture sector still managed to grow by 1.15 percent in terms of volume and 3.51 percent in terms of value.

“Likewise, from the PSA data, agricultural growth in terms of value in 2013 has actually tripled from the growth recorded in 2012 at 1.17 percent,” Alcala said.

Seed buffer stocking

Alcala said that one measure that has helped the sector cope up with the challenges of calamities and still register growth is seed buffer stocking. He recalled that when Typhoon Santi struck Central Luzon in October 2013, affected farmers received seeds from the DA’s buffer stocks not only from their region but also from the stocks of other regions. The availability of seeds ensured that no cropping season was missed.

“With seed buffer stocking, we have pre-positioned 10 percent of rice seed requirements of every region to enable quick replanting by farmers after calamities,” Alcala said.

Alcala stressed that as calamities have become more frequent and severe, the DA has strived to craft innovative measures to ensure that crops are immediately replaced and livelihoods are restored after these calamities.

The Secretary cited its experience with Yolanda, when the super typhoon-hit areas in Eastern Visayas were able to produce 201,722 metric tons of rice from 53,168 hectares land. Their farms yielded 8.6% more as the farmers, who previously did not have access to quality seeds, received certified seeds from the DA’s buffer stocks.

The Department has similarly provided quality seeds and other inputs for disaster-hit farmers planting other crops such as corn, root crops, fruits and vegetables.

“Bangkang Pinoy” for fisherfolk

But DA’s response efforts to Yolanda, as well as other calamities, have not only focused on crops as a significant portion of the devastated communities depends on fishing. Secretary Alcala explained that the DA has given special attention to fishers as they are the most disaster-vulnerable sectors, given their poverty incidence level and geographic location.

With the AHON! Rehabilitation Initiative of the DA-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR), the agency has been able to help at least 31,465 fisherfolk families and 103 fisherfolk associations to rebuild their boats or acquire new ones, enabling them to resume their fishing activities after the typhoon.

At least 5,000 Bangkang Pinoy fiberglass fishing boats have already been distributed to affected fisherfolk communities, enabling them to recover from their losses and contribute to the country’s fisheries production anew.

A component of the AHON! Rehabilitation Initiative, the Bangkang Pinoy project targets the distribution of at least 30,000 fishing boats for Yolanda-hit smallholder fisherfolk in the MIMAROPA, Central and Eastern Visayas regions.

These fiberglass fishing boats are sturdier and more durable, thus are cost-efficient than the traditional wooden boats. The distribution of these boats has helped realize the administration’s “build back better” rehabilitation approach.

Aside from boats, the DA-BFAR has provided motor engines and fishing gears as well for the Bangkang Pinoy beneficiaries.

During the Typhoon Ruby in 2014, the DA-BFAR has also deployed its pre-positioned multi-mission boats for quick response and relief operations in typhoon affected areas.

DA Undersecretary for Fisheries Asis Perez said that since after the onslaught of Yolanda, the DA-BFAR has pre-positioned multi-mission boats in strategic areas along expected typhoon corridors as a proactive measure to quickly respond to emergencies.

Insurance for farmers, fishers

Aside from providing material assistance to disaster-affected communities, the DA has likewise enhanced its existing insurance program for crops, livestock and fisheries.

“We are working within the context of changing climate and worsening disasters; hence, we want our existing programs such as insurance to be more responsive to the situations that confront our farmers and fishers,” Secretary Alcala said.

Through the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC), a government-owned and controlled corporation under the DA, the department has intensified insurance coverage of agricultural producers against losses of crops and non-crop agricultural assets due to natural calamities, pests and diseases, and other risk factors. Insurance has become a necessary component of the DA’s banner commodity programs.

Alcala stressed that in these times of unpredictable and extreme weather events, insurance for agricultural assets is indispensable to help farmers and fisherfolk recover faster from post-disaster losses.

Resiliency is sustainability

Secretary Alcala said that enabling agricultural producers become more resilient means making the agriculture sector as whole more sustainable.

“As our farmers and fishers recover more quickly from disasters, the overall agricultural growth is not compromised. This ensures the sector’s stable contribution to the country’s economy,” Alcala said, adding that livelihoods and food security are likewise protected.

The Secretary however stressed that response is not a stand alone strategy. He noted that a more resilient—and productive—agriculture industry also requires sustainable management and utilization of natural resources through practices such as multi-cropping, ecological agriculture and integrated pest management, among others. The DA has been promoting all these sustainable and climate-adaptive practices to complement disaster response programs. (DA)

World: Humanity in Action - Annual Review for the Private Sector 2014

27 July 2015 - 3:36pm
Source: International Committee of the Red Cross Country: Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Colombia, Haiti, Iraq, Jordan, Philippines, South Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, World

MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT

It is a reality that armed conflicts continue to define today’s world, with the accompanying toll of death, destruction and suffering.

For more than a century and a half, the ICRC has been working to protect the lives and dignity of victims of conflicts and to provide them with assistance. As a neutral, impartial and independent organization, we respond to the needs of the most vulnerable, whoever they may be, and whatever side they may be on. Yet we take care to tailor our response to each group’s specific needs and, just as importantly, to their level of resilience. In this way, we ensure that we have the greatest possible impact on the lives of our beneficiaries, be they men, women, children, wounded or displaced, migrants, detainees or people with disabilities.

The sheer scale of humanitarian needs in a great number of concurrent crises around the world made the year 2014 an intensely challenging one for the ICRC. Our largest operation in terms of expenditure was in response to the conflict in Syria. Despite significant access and security constraints and with the support of our partners in the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, we provided millions of people, on all sides of the front lines and in neighbouring countries, with emergency relief, clean water and medical care.

At the same time, we focused, with equal energy, on responding to the needs of people affected by other conflicts, such as in Afghanistan, the Central African Republic, Iraq, Israel and the occupied territories, including the Gaza Strip, Nigeria, South Sudan and Ukraine. Our multidisciplinary teams provided people with food and safe drinking water, adequate shelter, access to medical care, a means of staying in touch with their loved ones and help in preserving or resuming their livelihoods. They also sought to prevent further abuse and suffering by engaging the support of all those capable of influencing the situation of the most vulnerable, including governments and their armed forces, armed groups, and influential members of civil society, such as traditional leaders or the media.

We could not have done all this without the support of our donors, to whom I send my sincere thanks. The ICRC is grateful to be able to count on donors as varied as the people we help. Each and every gift is important to us, whether it enables us to improve the life of one person or those of many more. Our donors help us make a real difference.

Peter Maurer
ICRC President

Malaysia: Dengue Situation Update 469, 15 July 2015

27 July 2015 - 5:53am
Source: World Health Organization Country: Australia, Cambodia, China, French Polynesia (France), Lao People's Democratic Republic (the), Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Viet Nam

World: All Under One Roof: Disability-inclusive shelter and settlements in emergencies

26 July 2015 - 11:26pm
Source: International Federation of Red Cross And Red Crescent Societies, Handicap International, CBM Country: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Mongolia, occupied Palestinian territory, Pakistan, Philippines, Syrian Arab Republic, World

Summary

Persons with disabilities often experience discrimination and exclusion, despite the adoption of an increasingly rights-based approach to humanitarian assistance. The past three decades have witnessed a growing awareness of disability issues and the emergence and spread of disabled people’s organisations.

The growing awareness must be accompanied by practical measures to identify and reduce the barriers faced by persons with disabilities in an emergency situation.

The the capacity of disabled people's own organisations must be developed and used to inform humanitarian action and build resilient and inclusive communities.

All Under One Roof wants to transform the way humanitarian organisations approach inclusion and accessibility in their shelter and settlement programmes. It is the result of a collaborative process that started in 2013, involving CBM, Handicap International and IFRC.