ADB approves $3M grant for ‘Sendong’ relief efforts

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/22 Dec) – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) approved Thursday the immediate release of a US$3-million grant to augment the ongoing relief operations in several areas in Northern Mindanao and Visayas that were affected by the recent onslaught of tropical storm Sendong.

Neeraj Jain, ADB country director, said the financial assistance would mainly be utilized to provide clean water, health services, medical supplies and other essential emergency items to households that were affected by the calamity.

He said the assistance, which would be channeled through the national government, was under the ADB’s emergency facility – the Asia Pacific Disaster Response Fund – that provides quick-disbursing grants to help restore essential life-saving services following major natural disasters.

“As a development partner of the Philippines, we are extending immediate help to poor families that have borne disproportionate impact of the disaster during this festive season,” Jain said in a statement released Thursday afternoon.

Aside from supporting the relief operations, Jain said the agency will also support the government in the reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts for the communities and infrastructure that were destroyed by flashfloods brought by typhoon Sendong.

He said the ADB will mainly assist the development and installation of “effective early warning systems and measures that would reduce the risk of future disasters.”

Meantime, the United Nations (UN) and its humanitarian partners also called for an additional US$28.6 million funding to support the relief operations in Northern Mindanao.

A statement from UN’s World Food Programme said the additional funding requirement was based on the UN’s Emergency Revision of the Philippines (Mindanao) Humanitarian Action Plan 2012, which “aims to provide clean water for drinking and bathing, food, emergency shelter, and essential household items to 471,000 worst-affected people in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan cities for three months.”

“Debris clearing to reduce health risks and logistics services that ensure uninterrupted delivery of life-saving programmes are also a priority,” it said.

Dr. Soe Nyunt-U, acting UN resident and humanitarian coordinator, noted that they were shocked by the scale of destruction caused by floods brought by the typhoon in the cities of Iligan and Cagayan de Oro.

“It was as if the cities were hit by an inland tsunami. Entire areas were completely flattened; only a few sturdy buildings remain standing, and these had sustained a lot of damage. Debris from houses, buildings and other structures that had been destroyed by the storm was all swept out to the sea, leaving huge areas devoid of all traces of habitation,” said the UN official, who visited the two cities on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Citing government data, the agency said some 1,060 people have been confirmed dead or missing while 28,030 homes have been damaged or destroyed.

Around 43,600 people were taking shelter in 51 evacuation centers while another 266,000 people were staying with relatives or in makeshift structures, it said.

Soe noted that in Iligan City, where two-thirds of the 44 barangays have been affected, about a third of water sources were reported as damaged and resulted to a city-wide lack of potable water.