AUSTRALIAN AID RECONSTRUCTS SCHOOLS IN BICOL
Following its assistance of P39 million (A$ 1 million) to victims of Typhoon Reming which particularly devastated the Bicol region, the Australian Government, through the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), pledged an additional P9.75 million (A$ 250,000) for the reconstruction of damaged schools in the Bicol region.
The Australian Government’s assistance is in response to an appeal by the United Nations (UN) late last month for continuing relief and emergency assistance to typhoon victims in the country. The appeal noted that education infrastructure was particularly devastated and according to the Department of Education (DepED) almost one million school children have been affected. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported that up to 90 percent of all schools in Albay, the worst-hit province, have been damaged and many were beyond repair.
The P9.75 million will be directed to support the efforts of DepED and UNICEF, who are working collaboratively to urgently repair and rebuild schools, especially in the Bicol region, so that children can resume classes.
Australia earlier provided P39 million (A$ 1 million) in emergency assistance to the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC), United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and UNICEF. PNRC received P19.15 million (A$500,000) for immediate emergency relief efforts. UNDP and UNICEF received P 9.75 million (A$250,000) each for provision of short-term electricity and temporary shelter; and health, water, sanitation, temporary schools and school supplies; respectively.
The additional P9.75 million (A$ 250,000) will increase the total Australian assistance for Typhoon Reming victims to P 48.75 million (A$ 1.25 million).
Australia continues to play a significant role in building Philippine agencies’ disaster preparedness capacity in responding to emergencies and disasters. In the aftermath of the landslide in St. Bernard, Southern Leyte in February 2006, a Disaster Preparedness and Hazard Mapping program was initiated through UNDP and the National Disaster Coordinating Council to provide longer-term support to disaster risk management capacity in the Philippines. The Australian contribution to the project is P97.5 million (A$ 2.5 million), and is discussing with UNDP the acceleration of hazard mapping for the Bicol region.
Australia and the Philippines are close regional partners and share an interest in reducing poverty and attaining sustainable development in the Philippines. Australia has allocated A$70 million in overseas development assistance to the Philippines in 2006-07.