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Ambassador Ahmad: "The UK stands ready to work in partnership with the Philippines & other partners on longer-term reconstruction efforts."
I would like to start by reiterating the UK’s deepest sympathy for the tragic loss of life and the devastation caused by Typhoon Yolanda.
Credit must go to the Government of the Philippines for their leadership of the emergency response. I am proud that the UK has been able to help so significantly. We have now committed £62 million of funding for the initial response, which has helped to provide shelter, clean water and emergency supplies to affected people.
There has also been an overwhelming response by the British public, who, at the beginning of this week, had pledged more than £73 million for the relief effort, with amounts still rising. UK companies have also been forthcoming in offering assistance.
Taken together, the people of Britain as taxpayers and donors have already committed over 10 billion Pesos for victims of Yolanda.
It is humbling to see the enormous courage and resilience shown by the Philippine people in their response to the typhoon. It demonstrates to me that beyond the initial response there is a long road of recovery and reconstruction ahead. Acknowledging that, we welcome the presentation of this plan today.
It is essential that reconstruction priorities presented here build on work already done in the response phase. I would, therefore, urge the Government of the Philippines to ensure that RAY integrates the Strategic Response Plan drawn up by the United Nations that will run until the end of 2014.
As our Secretary of State for International Development, Justine Greening, said when she visited the country in November, the UK stands ready to work in partnership with the Government of the Philippines, and other partners, on longer-term reconstruction efforts.
As an indication of our commitment, we have joined the Rockefeller Foundation and Asian Development Bank and allocated up to £5m for four Philippine cities to invest in practical measures such as early warning systems and resilient infrastructure which will support physical improvements in drainage, housing, flood protection, and wastewater systems.
The unprecedented scale of the disaster wrought by Yolanda should inspire an ambitious recovery and reconstruction plan that recognises the vulnerability of the Philippines to natural shocks and disasters, and harnesses the resilience and vigour of the Filipino people to ensure that that disaster resilience is mainstreamed through all post-disaster programmes.
As your presentation shows, the typhoon’s impact is concentrated on some of the poorest provinces in the country with average household income less than 75% of the national average. Socio-economic indicators that were already bad have become much worse as a result of the typhoon. The success of this plan will be judged by its ability to ensure that Filipinos are lifted out of poverty and their livelihoods are assured; this can only be done in partnership with local government, civil society and the private sector. Transparency and accountability to the affected populations should be the watchwords of implementation.
It is encouraging to see in the plan that gender considerations will be mainstreamed into the design and implementation of all post-disaster interventions. We know that women and girls are particularly vulnerable to deprivation, loss and the threat of abuse in the aftermath of disasters. It will be vital to ensure that women and girls’ voices are heard in a meaningful way throughout reconstruction, and their needs are met.
As a further measure of our commitment, the UK stands ready to support the Post Disaster Needs Assessment with technical expertise should this be required, particularly on the protection of girls and women and building long term resilience.
Following this meeting we will review RAY carefully alongside the Strategic Response Plan and discuss with you our support for the plan.
In this context, we would welcome details on the process on how you will set out your approach for funding RAY, including the mix of soft and commercial loans, grants and contributions from the private sector through PPP. How you will indicate to partners where their coordinated assistance will be required?
The UK continues to stand behind the people of the Philippines in this time of urgent need.
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