News / Asia

Philippines Typhoon Aid Begins Transition to Long Term Recovery

FILE - A Typhoon Haiyan survivor carries a child wrapped in a towel as he watches a helicopter landing to bring aid to the destroyed town of Guiuan, Samar Island, Philippines.
FILE - A Typhoon Haiyan survivor carries a child wrapped in a towel as he watches a helicopter landing to bring aid to the destroyed town of Guiuan, Samar Island, Philippines.
The latest tallies of the human toll from Typhoon Haiyan are a daunting preview of the challenges ahead. Thirteen million people have been affected, four million of them displaced, and one million homes have been destroyed. Meanwhile, 2.5 million individuals now rely on food aid and around 7,000 people have been confirmed as dead or still missing.
 
President Benigno Aquino had set a target of “zero casualties” as the storm bore down on the Philippines, but as the country reeled in the first few chaotic days after the storm, the government came under criticism for not doing enough to assess the extent of the devastation and get aid moving.
 
Many people may have had the impression “the government was not doing anything” for the first few days, acknowledged presidential spokesman Edward Lacierda in a VOA interview.
 
“We are an archipelago,” said Lacierda, a member of the cabinet of President Aquino. “We had to make sure that everything was done in the proper way, not to mention the fact that really this storm surge, the effect on Tacloban was quite huge and devastating.”
 
Corruption Concerns for Recovery Effort
 
As parts of the country turn to rebuilding, Philippine and international agencies say that the emergency tempo of the relief effort in the central part of the country will need to continue for 18 months.
 
There are concerns that the Philippines' notorious corruption could skim off resources and hamper the long-term recovery. However, President Aquino has made fighting graft a focus of his administration and hopes to reassure donors with top-level oversight.
 
Just three government agencies will handle all of the donated funds, and high ranking officials, including Lacierda, will track spending and publish accounting reports online.
 
The government's recovery plan, supported by the World Bank, is to be submitted Wednesday to President Aquino. The bank has already announced it has raised nearly $1 billion to support relief and reconstruction.
 
The 67-member-nation Asian Development Bank, headquartered in Manila, is kicking in an additional $500 million emergency loan for reconstruction.
 
Rebuild or Relocate Vulnerable Communities?
 
As the Philippines prepares to rebuild, specialists are raising concerns about rebuilding along some shorelines that are particularly vulnerable to destructive storms and the effects of climate change, a quandary other countries in the region faced after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.
 
“We’ll have to do the assessments,” explained ADB vice president Stephen Groff. “But the answer to that question may very well be, ‘no,’ that some communities may need to be moved. And if you look at what happened in Aceh and some areas around the East Asian tsunami, indeed some of those communities were relocated. And that is part of a longer term solution at risk mitigation,” said Groff. 
 
Presidential spokesman Lacierda said the Department of Public Works “will ensure what structures can be built, what areas we can build on and to force people not to build in areas that are not tenable.”
 
It is a question not of if, but rather of when the Philippines will get hit with another devastating natural disaster. The consensus in Manila is that the only good that can come out of this latest national calamity is learning lessons that will help mitigate the destruction from the next one.

Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steven L Herman is the Voice of America Asia correspondent.

You May Like

US Investors Eye IPO for China's Alibaba

E-commerce giant handled 80 percent of China's online business last year, logging more Internet transactions than US-based Amazon.com and eBay combined More

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

As cease-fire begins, Palestinians celebrate in streets; Israelis remain wary More

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

In treatment of a 12-year-old boy Chinese doctors used a 3-D printer and special software to create an exact replica of vertebra More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implanti
X
August 27, 2014 4:53 PM
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 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. VOA News reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Northern California Quake: No Way to Know When Next One Will Hit

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake rocked northern California’s Napa Valley on Sunday. Roads twisted and water mains burst. It was the wine country’s most severe quake in 15 years, and while hospitals treated many people, no one was killed. Arash Arabasadi has more from Washington on what the future may hold for those residents living on a fault line.
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.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.

AppleAndroid