More than half a year since a typhoon rocked the Philippines, killing more than 6,000 people and displacing millions, Haiyan recovery efforts are still ongoing. Tens of thousands of Filipinos continue to live in temporary shelters. An estimated 17,000 fishermen have been unable to replace boats destroyed in the storm, and thousands of acres of damaged farmlands hamper production in the agricultural sector.
Although typhoons regularly affect the region, this particular storm, known locally as Yolanda, drew international attention for its widespread effect. Via its Food- and Cash-for-Assets Programme, the World Food Programme, in partnership with the national and local Filipino governments, provides aid to Filipinos who are repairing destroyed lands. The deforestation caused by the storm poses a grave obstacle to agricultural recovery.
The WFP helps the local powers distribute many forms of aid—like meals to over 100,000 school children—to the near 12 million victims of the storm. It has slowly begun to increase the national government’s responsibilities.
With over $14 million given toward the last budget, the U.S. is the number one donor to the WFP in the Haiyan recovery efforts. Still, the Programme claims a $75 million deficit in funding needed to satisfy its purpose, and reenergizing agriculture in the Philippines will require years to regrow the millions of felled coconut trees.
The Philippine crisis has calmed with the passing months, but a shortage of water and the pending El Niño raise humanitarian concern. Reacting to these problems and properly preparing for future natural disasters may strain the government, which is at present dealing with its pork barrel scandal—in late 2013, Filipinos discovered that government officials had, through the Priority Development Assistance Fund, misused the equivalent of $226 million on projects aimed solely at gaining votes. Many of these projects never existed.
Increased WFP support and national pressure against government corruption could well serve a country whose capital, Manila, represents the city with the highest number of homeless in the world. Until then, the poor wait.
– Erica Lignell