WB releases $500M to help ‘Sendong’ victims

MANILA,Philippines—The World Bank announced over the weekend the immediate release of $500 million to assist the Philippine government’s recovery and reconstruction efforts in the wake of tropical storm Sendong.

In a statement, Chiyo Kanda, World Bank acting country director said in natural disasters, it is the poor, including many women and children, who are particularly vulnerable.

“We hope the funds will give the Philippine government flexibility to help families and communities recover, reconstruct vital infrastructure, and restore basic social services, as well as enhance the country’s preparedness for natural disasters in the future,” Kanda said.

An estimated 720,900 individuals have been affected by the storm, with 4,620 injured and the death toll reaching almost 1,260 persons.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council has estimated the damage to infrastructure, agriculture and school buildings at over P1.3 billion.

Kanda, who went to the affected area last month for a project site visit — including Iligan and Cagayan de Oro that were heavily damaged by the storm—reinforced the bank’s commitment to continue working with the government and other development partners in the short, medium, and long term, to build the resilience of affected areas and other parts of the country.

The funds come from the Disaster Risk Management Development Policy Loan with Catastrophe Deferred Drawdown Option (Cat-DDO), approved by the World Bank’s Board of Directors in September 2011.

Cesar Purisima, secretary of the Department of Finance, said the Cat-DDO is a quick and flexible source of financing for a country like the Philippines which is vulnerable to natural calamities.

The Cat-DDO is a line of credit for the government of the Philippines to enhance its capacity to manage the impacts of natural disasters.

The release followed President Benigno Aquino III’s declaration of a State of National Calamity during his visit to areas affected by the storm and a request from the Philippine government to access the $500 million liquidity facility.

The Cat-DDO is one of many forms of assistance available from the World Bank group to help borrowers plan efficient responses to natural disasters.

It gives a government immediate access to funds after a major natural disaster, a time when available funds are often not adequate to meet the needs for reconstruction and recovery.

The $500 million liquidity facility for the Philippines is the first of its kind in the East Asia and Pacific region. Other Cat-DDOs approved by the World Bank are in the Latin America and Caribbean region, for Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Panama, and Peru.

The $500 million funding is complemented by a technical assistance program from the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) to support implementation of Republic Act 10121 or the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010, as well as its Strategic National Action Plan for Disaster Risk Reduction (SNAP), which serves as the road map in the coming ten years to improve disaster risk management.

South Korea also donated relief goods for the victims of tropical storm Sendong equivalent to $500,000.

The relief goods, coursed through the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), are composed of 500 tents, 15,000 towels, 63,000 ready-to-eat meals, and 6,800 water purification tablets from South Korea.

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