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Philippines: UNDP and Canada partner to favor recovery in the Philippines

10 June 2015 - 1:37am
Source: UN Development Programme Country: Philippines

Canadian wood construction manufacturers and UNDP rebuild local government infrastructure after Typhoon Haiyan

In aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms recorded on the planet, the Quebec Wood Export Bureau (QWEB) and UNDP have partnered to provide municipal building solutions to the people of Guiuan in the Philippines.

Four buildings were provided to support local recovery efforts after consulting with Guiuan authorities and the community. The buildings will serve as the town council session hall, the office of the mayor and house various key departments like accounting, treasury, and disaster risk reduction and management. One of the units will be used as training center for an agricultural demonstration farm and as an evacuation center in the event of a future disaster.

Restoring basic social services

Every year, millions of people around the world are displaced by conflicts or natural disasters. Less affected communities find themselves with a population that has doubled or sometimes tripled overnight. Such demographic shifts add pressure on often already strained basic services and challenge traditional humanitarian, camp-based delivery systems.

In such a context, municipal services need to be bolstered to extend access to water, education, health, housing as well as ensure adequate waste management to the newly arrived populations. The private sector can play a pivotal role in upscaling the ability to offer these basic services.

Typhoon Haiyan caused unprecedented devastation and killed more than 6,000 people. Suddenly the community of Guiuan in Eastern Samar found itself struggling to provide basic social services. In response to this need for humanitarian assistance, QWEB in partnership with the Société d’habitation du Québec, Natural Resources Canada, and four wood construction manufacturing companies provided four prefabricated wood buildings to help restore social services in Guiuan. While the prefabricated buildings were manufactured in Quebec, they were designed for quick assembly on-site and engineered to resist typhoon winds up to 251 km/h.

“We decided to partner with UNDP as the organization, on top of its extensive on-the-ground experience with recovering from disasters, has solid relationships with local authorities. These relationships could facilitate all negotiations with the municipal authorities as well as help us obtain authorizations, hire workers, support the shipping, and customs clearance and provide training on the maintenance of the buildings” noted Alain Boulet, QWEB manager for the wood construction sector.

Three Quebec workers travelled to Guiuan to assemble the buildings and train local labor to help erect the structures. Local workers were shown how to create good foundations, assemble the house kits and customise the buildings. In addition, the maps and blueprint were handed to the General Services unit of the Guiuan municipality so the buildings could continue to be maintained. After two weeks, the local government was using their four new offices.

Exploring a niche market and matching municipal needs

Although partnerships between the UN and private sector can sometimes be challenging due to differing implementation timeframes and corporate cultures, this project was different.

“Our timing is not always aligned, as UNDP consults a lot to make sure projects will respond to local needs and to make sure the beneficiary community will own the project. Businesses most often cannot afford such lengthy processes”, noted Glaucia Boyer from the UNDP Geneva Office. “QWEB as the one stop contact and interface for the industry with us played an essential role reconciling these different agendas. I doubt a company would have been able to invest time and resources in such process”, she added.

This project was possible due to market development work supported by Société d’habitation du Québec and Natural Resources Canada to develop new building solutions and explore new markets. This experience was part of a long-term strategy for Canada’s wood manufacturing sector to play an active role in global post-disaster reconstruction efforts. QWEB and its members were able to forge links with international organizations and showcase a product that can provide vital shelter when a crisis strikes.

“We want to leverage our expertise to develop better housing solutions for people displaced by conflicts and disasters. In addition to the four municipal buildings erected in Guiuan, a QWEB member manufacturer provided 6,775 timber-frame houses to an NGO for the communities affected by the 2010 earthquake in Haïti. This was a tremendous learning experience that helped us understand the reality on the ground, improve our product so it fits the needs and reduces the unit cost by 38%”, added Alain Boulet from QWEB.

For the local government, this was also a positive experience. The quick assembly time allowed public servants to resume providing much-needed services to the community.

“This is a very reliable space to hold our temporary office. Some of my colleagues are indeed so impressed by the strength of the buildings that they are keen to build more to host their administration. We could resume quickly the legislative sessions of the Town Council and manage the crisis left by Typhoon Yolanda. We are in a more productive mode in our daily tasks serving the people of Guiuan” Mayor Christopher Sheen said.

Philippines: Dengue cases decrease in Caraga Region

9 June 2015 - 10:17pm
Source: Government of the Philippines Country: Philippines

BUTUAN CITY, June 9 (PIA) – Dengue cases in Caraga Region remarkably dropped by 51 percent in the first semester this year compared to the same period last year.

Dengue project regional coordinator Dr. Jonathan Basadre said that a total of 1,162 cases of dengue fever were admitted to the different disease reporting units regionwide from January 1 to June 6, 2015, lower by 1,224 cases than the 2,386 recorded in the same period in 2014.

Basadre also said that in terms of geographic distribution, Butuan City has the highest number in the six cities with 267 cases while Surigao del Sur is the highest among all the five provinces in the region with 230 cases.

There were also six deaths reported to the different diseases reporting units regionwide, it was learned.

“We continue to follow the simple rules of eradicating this problem by searching and destroying mosquito breeding places every 4:00 p.m. and be updated to the dengue status of our barangay,” said DOH Caraga regional director Dr. Jose Llacuna, Jr. (DJApit/PIA-Caraga)

World: Global Emergency Overview Snapshot 3 - 9 June 2015

9 June 2015 - 9:52am
Source: Assessment Capacities Project Country: Afghanistan, Bolivia (Plurinational State of), 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, India, Iraq, Jordan, Kenya, Kiribati, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Myanmar, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, occupied Palestinian territory, Pakistan, Philippines, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Thailand, Uganda, Ukraine, Vanuatu, World, Yemen

Snapshot 3-9 June 2015

Yemen: 20 million people, close to 80% of the population, are estimated to need humanitarian aid. 500,000 people were displaced in May, bringing the total displaced since 26 March to more than 1 million. The escalation in the conflict has meant two million more people are food insecure, and six million more lack access to healthcare, and 9.4 million lack access to safe water.

Nigeria: The situation in the northeast is destabilising further. Boko Haram attacks killed more than 66 people over 4–7 June. Populations in parts of Yobe, Borno, and Adamawa states are expected to face Emergency food insecurity between July and September.

Sudan: In South Kordofan, 26,000 people were displaced by violence in May. Increased violence in South Sudan has brought 13,000 new refugees to White Nile and South Kordofan since the end of May. In Darfur, some 100,000 people are thought to have been displaced since the beginning of the year, but they cannot be reached and numbers cannot be confirmed.

Go to www.geo.acaps.org for analysis of more than 40 humanitarian crises.

Updated: 09/06/2015 Next Update: 16/06/2015

Global Emergency Overview Web Interface

Philippines: Alternatives to coconut: Improving disaster resilience in the Philippines

8 June 2015 - 4:18pm
Source: Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development Country: Philippines

During the French presidential visit to Guiuan in February 2015, the French government reiterated its support to those most affected by the consequences of climate change in the Philippines, by supporting ACTED’s activities with the support of the French Development Agency (AFD). Part of this support will go to coconut farmers, hit severely by more and more frequent natural disasters due to global warming.

42 million headless coconut trees

In the Philippines, coconut trees are nicknamed "The Tree of Life". Indeed, coconut trees are not just images from pretty postcards. You can get nearly everything out of a coconut tree, from diverse sorts of food to solid furniture, oil, medicine, paper and even clothing. 25 million Filipinos are directly or indirectly dependent on the coconut tree industry. When typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines in 2013, it affected more than 14 million people, and destroyed millions of trees. Eastern Samar was one of the worst hit areas, with more than 42 million coconut trees beheaded.

In this desolated landscape of headless trees, Filipinos worked hard with the support of the government and the humanitarian community to rebuild their homes and ensure access to water and sanitation. But for more than one million farmer families, the question of how to build back their main source of work and income, coconut agriculture, remains a huge challenge. Replanting is not enough, newly planted coconut trees take between 6 to 8 years to be productive. Farmers need to diversify their production, find new possibilities of income.

A need for improved agricultural and business skills

When your family and most of the families around you have been cultivating coconut trees for ages, in an isolated area, it is difficult to imagine what else you can plant, and difficult to have access to different quality inputs. This lack of access and knowledge led to inadequate investment in storage and technology services (e.g. collection centers, livestock housing etc.), incorrect usage of inputs and technologies, which has decreased productivity and production quality, hampered soil quality and incurred higher production costs for farmers. This could also lead to markets becoming overcrowded with a single type of new product.

Besides the production itself, limited business skills, market linkages with buyers and sellers, and access to information about the market (supply and demand, price, market actors, and quality standards) is a challenge. Market structures and mechanisms are weak. Production is small scale and the area is difficult to reach so it does not attract bigger market players. Moreover, farmers are not well organized and they do not buy inputs in bulk amount or sell collectively. This gives them low leverage to negotiate prices or terms. They either have less access to services or are less confident to individually go and seek advisory services from the department of agriculture or other local government bodies. Market actors are also reluctant to work with individual farmers due to high transaction costs and risks, and low level of production and productivity.

A bridge between farmers and markets

ACTED, People In Need and HELVETAS (part of the European NGO network Alliance2015) have recently started to support farmers to diversify their livelihoods, with support from Swiss Solidarity and the French Development Agency. Teams will first conduct feasibility studies and market assessments in the area, which means exploring the existing types of agricultural practices, what techniques farmers are using, what is possible in terms of other agricultural practices that would be marketable, and how can existing farming practices be improved or what new techniques can be introduced.

Secondly, the project will support the training and capacity building of Local Lead Farmers who can provide continued agricultural support and expertise to their communities. Local Lead Farmers will be experienced and skilled local farmers who will act as the link between poor farmers and the private sector to help farmers enter and successfully engage in markets. Local Lead Farmers will support farmers to organize into Farmer Groups, identify markets and provide farmers with the technical and business know-how to be successful in markets. Local Lead Farmers act as trainers, extension workers and they embody the link or bridge between farmers and markets. Through the capacity build-up of local Lead Farmers, ACTED will support 12,000 farmers’ families recover sustainably by facilitating and supporting stable income generating opportunities, and improving their resilience to the effects of climate change.

World: Asia Pacific Zone Office Annual Report 2014 (MAA5001)

8 June 2015 - 6:59am
Source: International Federation of Red Cross And Red Crescent Societies Country: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Pakistan, Philippines, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Timor-Leste, World

Overview

The Asia Pacific zone (APZ) of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) comprises the zone office in Kuala Lumpur, four regional offices in Suva (Pacific), Bangkok (Southeast Asia), Delhi (South Asia) and Beijing (East Asia) and 12 country offices, adopting a “best-positioned” strategy to support the national societies (NSs) in the zone according to their needs. Through this decentralized management structure, the Asia Pacific zone office directs the work of the regional and country offices.

The 37 national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies in Asia Pacific work to help the most vulnerable groups in their respective countries who are most affected by these disasters and socio-economic and health crises. With their widespread network of grassroots members and volunteers, they seek to address the needs of the most vulnerable people in both disaster, and non-disaster, situations.

The mission of the APZ office is to promote and facilitate the development of strong Asia Pacific NSs with quality disaster response/recovery and development programmes addressing priority humanitarian needs in their countries in line with Strategy 2020 as articulated by the Amman Commitment from the 8th Asia Pacific Regional Red Cross Red Crescent Conference held in October 2010 and the ‘Beijing Call for Innovation’ as per 9th Asia Pacific Regional Conference held in October 2014.

A major milestone for IFRC APZ has been its involvement in the 9th Asia Pacific Regional Conference and the pre-conference Youth Summit in Beijing. The Asia Pacific Regional Conference highlighted the importance of embracing innovation in terms of attitudes, technologies, approaches in building partnerships to support vulnerable people. The conference concluded with the ‘Beijing Call for Innovation’, 10 key action points to guide the IFRC’s humanitarian action in the coming years, including a commitment to establish a Red Cross Red Crescent Innovation Fund to pilot new and creative ways to work with communities through peer support platforms. The Beijing Call for Innovation will be a guiding document for East Asia NSs for the next 4 years.

The Youth Summit culminated in the ‘Beijing Youth Commitments 2014’ where 49 Red Cross Red Crescent youth delegates from 35 countries in Asia Pacific and the Middle East declared their determination to do more, do better, and reach further as they respond to disasters.

The launch of the IFRC annual flagship publication – The World Disasters Report (WDR 2014) – on 17 December 2014, in collaboration with the the Harun M. Hashim Law Centre of the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) in which offering a platform for engagement between Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement members, faculty member and students of IIUM, representatives from the diplomatic community, international organisations and local NGOs

Malaysia: Dengue Situation Update 466, 2 June 2015

8 June 2015 - 2:07am
Source: World Health Organization Country: Cambodia, China, French Polynesia (France), Lao People's Democratic Republic (the), Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Viet Nam

Update on the Dengue situation in the Western Pacific Region

Northern Hemisphere

China

As of 30 April, there were 20 cases of dengue reported in China for 2015. Compared with the same period of the previous of 2012 to 2014, the number of dengue cases reported in China has increased slightly in 2015(Figure 1).

Malaysia

As of 23 May 2015, there were 45,070 cases of dengue reported in Malaysia for 2015. This is 35% higher compared with the same reporting period of 2014 (n=33,456) (Figure 2). From 17 to 23 May 2015, there were 1,944 cases of dengue reported, 16% higher than the cases reported in the previous week (n=1,675).

Philippines

From 1 January to 2 May 2015, there were 24,075 cases of dengue, including 65 deaths, reported in Philippines. This is 8.53% higher compared with the same reporting period in 2014 (n=22,182) (Figure 3).

Singapore

As of 23 May 2015, there were 3,130 cases of dengue reported in Singapore for 2015. From 17 to 23 May 2015, 110 dengue cases reported, 48 cases lower than the previous week (Figure 4).

World: Urban informal settlers displaced by disasters: challenges to housing responses

5 June 2015 - 7:23am
Source: Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Country: Argentina, Dominican Republic, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Nicaragua, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Turkey, World

IDMC's report explores the challenges in providing sustainable housing assistance to informal urban settlers displaced by disasters. It looks at nine case studies from Asia, America and Europe.

The report identifies the difficulties faced by urban informal settlers in receiving long-term housing assistance in post-disaster situations. Informal settlers are more exposed and vulnerable to displacement and are more likely to be relocated and excluded from the provision of durable housing assistance.

Housing response in post-disaster settings can strongly contribute to the achievement of durable solutions, if the response fulfills the right to adequate housing and includes the provision of shelter, improved living conditions and hazard resilience.

Philippines: What works in addressing violence against women and girls?: Lessons learned from Typhoon Haiyan - Workshop Report

4 June 2015 - 10:19pm
Source: Department for International Development Country: Philippines

Violence against women and girls can escalate in the aftermath of humanitarian emergencies. To better understand how to prevent and respond to violence against women and girls in emergencies, DFID convened a meeting of organisations who were part of the earliest response to the Typhoon Haiyan disaster in the Philippines. The meeting took place in November 2013 and discussed the experience of these practitioners in putting protection of women and girls at the centre of the humanitarian response. Key recommendations include putting greater effort into making protection a ‘mainstream’ issue across all parts of a humanitarian response, reaching out to local organisations to support efforts, and including protection measures as part of disaster preparedness.

World: Annual Report 2014: Protecting civilians in armed conflict

4 June 2015 - 11:11am
Source: Geneva Call Country: Afghanistan, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, India, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Lebanon, Myanmar, Philippines, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Turkey, Western Sahara, World, Yemen

2014 was marked by an increase in the number and intensity of non-international armed conflicts in different contexts and countries. These conflicts are taking a dramatic toll on civilian populations, forcing families to leave their homes or children to enrol as fighters. More than ever, dialogue with armed non-State actors (ANSAs) is necessary for the protection of civilian populations from the effects of armed conflict.

In 2014, Geneva Call worked in 16 countries and territories, engaging with 52 ANSAs and encouraging them to move towards compliance with humanitarian norms. Fourteen new Deeds of Commitment were signed by 8 ANSAs, leading to enhanced protection for civilians. Geneva Call also trained 801 political leaders, fighters, military instructors and representatives from local communities and authorities about broad international humanitarian norms. Furthermore, it accompanied and monitored the implementation of the Deeds of Commitment with each of the 30 signatory ANSAs that remain active.

Another major step in 2014 was the organization of the Third Meeting of Signatories to the Deeds of Commitment, which gathered 70 high-level representatives from 35 ANSAs in Geneva. This event was an important milestone in monitoring and discussing signatory ANSAs’ compliance with the Deeds of Commitmen

Philippines: Is the Philippines about to miss its chance at peace?

4 June 2015 - 10:33am
Source: IRIN Country: Philippines

MANILA, 4 June 2015 (IRIN) - With a bill aimed at ending a decades-long Muslim separatist insurgency in the southern Philippines floundering in congress, observers warn that failure to pass the legislation could reignite the conflict.

After almost 30 years of fighting, the government signed a peace agreement last year with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which has about 12,000 soldiers. The accord requires the MILF to gradually decommission its army, and it would expand the autonomous Muslim area on the southern island of Mindanao, creating a new political entity called Bangsamoro.

The Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) was drawn up to provide a framework for governance of the region, which is essential for the peace deal. But the BBL has been stalled in congress since 44 police were killed in a 25 January clash with MILF members, which led some legislators who had initially supported the bill to become harsh critics.

Analysts warn that the peace agreement could fall apart if the stalemate continues much longer.

Leaders of the MILF still support the peace process, but the rank and file is losing patience, and they are looking abroad at the tactics of other Islamic insurgencies, according to Ramon Casiple who heads the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform, a Manila-based think tank.

“It is the younger factions that may be waiting in the wings who are in danger of going back to fighting and exposed to other foreign armed groups,” said Casiple.

There is also rising discontent with the peace process on the government side, especially since the battle in January when police commandos strayed into a rebel-held territory while pursuing suspects in the 2002 nightclub bombings in Bali, Indonesia.

Some politicians saw the incident as evidence that the MILF were not committed to peace, and argued that passing the BBL would only embolden the organisation.

“Armed conflict will ensue; blood will be shed,” said senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the son of Ferdinand Marcos whose military-backed government was ousted by mass protests in 1986, in a speech on Wednesday.

The younger Marcos argues that the BBL is unconstitutional because it would create “a state within a state”.

The MILF’s chief negotiator, Mohagher Iqbal, has blamed the January clash on police who he said ignored requirements in the peace deal to coordinate with the MILF on any operations in territory under its control.

He urged the government to press ahead with the deal, which he characterised as the last chance for peace after 17 years of negotiation.

“I don’t think the MILF would ever agree – or is capable – to negotiate again for such a long period of time. If we miss this opportunity, I don’t think a similar opportunity will ever present itself again in a generation or two from now,” said Iqbal in an open letter on 19 May.

He said that the younger, “more radical” generation of fighters would be more likely to take up arms again in pursuit of a separate state.

Julkipli Wadi, a political science analyst at the Institute of Islamic Studies in Manila, told IRIN that Iqbal’s warning was a calculated move aimed at pressuring lawmakers to pass the bill. But he added that it was also a valid observation.

Some MILF members have broken away already, forming a group called the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters. They reject the peace deal and have pledged to fight for independence.

As politicians debate the BBL, about 32,200 people remain displaced by January’s violence. They remain in limbo, afraid to return to their houses for fear of renewed fighting.

Civilian victims of the conflict like Kimberly Pascua, 18, are a constant reminder of the consequences of returning to war.

Pascua lost her legs and six family members in a MILF attack five years ago, and she spoke to IRIN at the Davao Jubilee Foundation, which has been helping to rehabilitate her with prosthetic legs with assistance from the International Committee for the Red Cross.

“I hope this time, peace holds and there would be less fighting and less children to be caught in the middle,” she said. “I lost my legs to the conflict, and I wish no more children suffer like me.”

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