News / Asia

Philippines Struggles to Account for Millions in Foreign Typhoon Aid

A typhoon survivor stands on rubbish in Tacloban, central Philippines, Dec. 8, 2013.
A typhoon survivor stands on rubbish in Tacloban, central Philippines, Dec. 8, 2013.
Simone Orendain
After super Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines last November, foreign governments and aid groups pledged some $600 million in cash and assistance for the relief and recovery effort. Now, the Philippine government says it can only account for some $14.3 million of the donations. The government is working to create an improved tracking system to find out where the money went.
 
Right now the “Foreign Aid Transparency Hub” website shows pledges to three Philippine government agencies, but there are holes in the data.
 
Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda admits that the website does not reflect where exactly the money is going.  But he says the government will remedy that situation this month with an updated version that will provide more transparency.
 
“We are not going to only track donations to government, but also [what] those pledges and assistance have been converted to and to what channels- what we call channels- or organizations that they’re going to be furnished to," said Lacierda.
 
Foreign governments accounting 


For the new version, the Philippines will require foreign governments to submit detailed information of where their pledges have gone.  Authorities say this will help them account for much more of the donated funds.  As for tracking what the Philippine government has received directly, Lacierda says those agencies are still putting together reports of where the money was spent.
 
Cleo Calimbahin, the executive director of Transparency International-Philippines, commends the government for creating the website, but she says it is “not very informative.”  And even with additional information in the new version, the huge gap between pledges versus cash accepted might not necessarily close.
 
“A lot of private organizations and agencies channeled some of [that] aid directly to their counterparts… and that would be very difficult to track.  Also difficult to track would be aid that was given directly to local governments… because sometimes these local governments have strong relationships with other countries directly,” she said.
 
Ramon Casiple, who heads the Philippine Institute for Political and Electoral Reform,  says improved transparency about the government’s projects for aid and recovery would be better than an improved aid tracking website.

“The public can look into these plans, the way that they are implemented and actually give access to the victims themselves, if you want to verify the facts or the information.  The whole problem, so far in the rehabilitation, is that the victims are not part of the story,” he said.

Casiple says some of the bigger aid agencies worry about corruption and so they hesitate to donate directly to governments.   Also, down on the ground at the local government level, politics can influence whether survivors will get help or not. 

Relief operations in the Philippines, Nov. 21, 2013
 
  • Typhoon survivors board a Philippine Air Force transport plane in Tacloban, Nov. 21, 2013.
  • A Philippine man carries aid from a U.S. Navy Seahawk helicopter in Palo, Philippines, Nov. 20, 2013.
  • U.S. sailors and Marines load supplies onto a helicopter to be delivered in Eastern Sumar Province, Philippines, Nov. 20, 2013. (U.S. Navy)
  • U.S. military personnel carry supplies to be distributed in Eastern Sumar Province, Philippines, Nov. 20, 2013. (U.S. Navy)
  • U.S. sailors work with Philippine armed forces members to transport relief supplies in Ormoc City, Philippines, Nov. 18, 2013. (U.S. Navy)
  • A member of the U.S. Navy hugs a child during a visit to Philippine Army base Camp Downes in support of Operation Damayan, Nov. 18, 2013. (U.S. Navy)
  • A Seahawk helicopter transports international relief supplies in support of Operation Damayan, Ormoc City, Philippines, Nov. 17, 2013. (U.S. Navy)
  • U.S. sailors and Marines work with Philippine civilians to unload relief supplies in Guiuan, Philippines, Nov. 17, 2013. (U.S. Navy)
  • Villagers scramble for aid from a U.S. Navy helicopter in the coastal town of Tanawan, Philippines, Nov. 17. 2013.
  • A soldier carries a baby to board a U.S. military transport plane at the damaged Tacloban airport, Tacloban city, Philippines, Nov. 17, 2013.
  • A U.S. hospital corpsman assists Philippine nurses in treating a patient's head wound at the Immaculate Conception School refugee camp, Guiuan, Philippines, Nov. 17, 2013. (U.S. Navy)
  • Philippine citizens board an U.S. HC-130 Hercules to be airlifted to safety in support of Operation Damayan, Guiuan, Nov. 17, 2013. (U.S. Navy)
 
 
Agencies have own tracking systems

Casiple points to Oxfam International, which has so far collected $55 million toward typhoon aid, as a model for efficiency in helping the neediest survivors.  He says agencies like Oxfam work closely with their local counterparts on the ground.  

An Oxfam spokeswoman says all donations collected go toward Haiyan relief and rehabilitation.   The money is administered through a management system that follows projects at each step of the process.  
 
Another major humanitarian agency, the Tzu Chi Foundation, works directly with the survivors.  Philippine Country Chief Alfred Li says Tzu Chi has so far poured more than $27 million into areas that were hit hardest by Haiyan.  He says the money is tracked from start to finish and Tzu Chi personnel and volunteers are on the ground carrying out the work.
 
“Whatever we spend is handled by us.  We never give it to the government and then let the government do the distribution.  All our relief activities are always done by ourselves,” he said.
 
The funds have gone toward cash and livelihood relief and now building schools and other recovery work.  Li says Tzu Chi submits reports directly to the Departments of Social Welfare, Education and other related agencies.  

After five months of  recovery and reconstruction efforts in Tacloban and other hard-hit areas, there is still a great need for more assistance. Just this week, Australia pledged another $27 million for reconstruction in typhoon-hit areas, on top of the $36 million Canberra pledged in November.

Images from the Philippines, Nov. 21, 2013
 
  • Typhoon Haiyan survivors wait for their evacuation flights at the airport in Tacloban, Philippines, Nov. 21, 2013.
  • A typhoon survivor sits beside the body bag containing his child in Tacloban, central Philippines, Nov. 20, 2013.
  • A Philippine Air Force crew looks out from his helicopter as Typhoon Haiyan-ravaged city of Tacloban is seen in the background, during a flight to deliver relief goods, Nov. 19, 2013.
  • The brakelight of a delivery truck lights up a boy's face as survivors struggle to be the first in line during the distribution of relief goods in typhoon-hit Tacloban, Philippines, Nov. 18, 2013.
  • Firemen unload Typhoon Haiyan victims in body bags from a truck on the roadside until forensic experts can register and bury them in a mass grave outside of Tacloban, Philippines, Nov. 19, 2013.
  • A Typhoon Haiyan survivor carries a bag of his recovered belongings in the ruins of his rural neighborhood on the outskirts of Tacloban, Philippines, Nov. 18, 2013.
  • A man uses a shovel to clean up mud inside St. Joseph Parish church, which was badly damaged by Typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban, Philippines, Nov. 18, 2013.
  • Typhoon Haiyan survivors walk along a road in the destroyed port in the town of Guiuan, Philippines, Nov. 15, 2013.
  • A young boy, a survivor of Typhoon Haiyan covers his ears as military C-130 aircraft land at the airport in Tacloban, central Philippines, Nov. 15, 2013.
  • Survivors of Typhoon Haiyan shade themselves from the rising sun after spending the night on the tarmac in the airport in Tacloban, where they wait to be evacuated, Nov. 15, 2013.
  • Toppled coconut trees dot a mountain in an area devastated by typhoon Haiyan in Leyte province, central Philippines, Nov. 15, 2013.

You May Like

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

There is growing uncertainty over whether West’s response to ISIS is adequate More

China Crackdown on Dual Citizens Causes Concern

New policy encourages reporting people who obtain citizenship in another country, but retain Chinese citizenship; move spurs sharp debate More

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

Losing ground to Islamic State fighters, Syria's government says it is ready to cooperate with international community More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: mark
May 01, 2014 6:01 PM
To make things simple and easy. They don't necessarily account for donations directly fiven to recipients or partner organizations of donors, they have their own trust system and they know where those went. These oeganizations will nit ask government where it went because they know first hand.What theit concern should be what they receive and where they spend it.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid