Private sector to the fore in Haiyan response
By Denis McClean (United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction – Regional Office for Asia and Pacific (UNISDR AP)) | December 11, 2013
CEBU, 11 December 2013 – Private sector representatives took their place today alongside the usual line-up of NGOs and international organizations who came together to brainstorm a rehabilitation plan for those parts of Cebu province which suffered significant losses because of Typhoon Haiyan (known in the Philippines as Yolanda).
Governor Hilario Davide III said the plan would be ready for launch in mid-January and praised the private sector for its active partnership with the provincial government in both the relief effort and now in the planning for the rehabilitation phase.
“Public-private partnerships will become increasingly important as we move from the response phase to rehabilitation and seek to build back better,” he said.
Whether restarting the supply of drinking water for the devastated city of Tecloban or the provision of logistical support for Typhoon Haiyan operations, there are many examples of the private sector responding to the challenges of building resilience to disasters in one of the world’s most disaster-affected countries.
The Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry provided important logistical support to the development of Cebu Mactan Airport as an international hub for relief flights. Chamber officials and volunteers quickly established a repository for incoming international relief items in an abandoned school in the centre of Cebu where they received goods from countries such as Russia, Indonesia and Myanmar. They have also assisted through volunteers with re-packaging these goods for distribution.
The Chamber is a powerful grouping of 3,000 businesses including many small to medium-sized enterprises and it has emerged in recent years as a significant player on the disaster scene. So much so that before Typhoon Pablo struck in December last year, the Chamber had already taken a decision to put in place a permanent disaster committee in its External Affairs Division.
Lito Maderazo, Chamber President, said the 110-year old Chamber, which aims to be the engine of economic growth in Cebu, has responded to every major disaster in the last few years with relief goods, and restoration of livelihoods as in the case of fishermen who were displaced by an oil spill earlier this year.
Since the October earthquake in Bohol, they have partnered with major shopping mall operators SM Prime Holdings Inc (whose President Hans Sy is a member of UNISDR’s Private Sector Advisory Group) and Ayala, to organize three fundraisers for earthquake and typhoon victims.
Mr. Maderazo’s own business, Mactan Rock Industries, restored the supply of fresh drinking water to the devastated city of Tacloban within five days of Haiyan hitting. It took time to clear out their ground wells and get their generators back up but soon they were providing 100,000 litres of free drinking water daily to the Red Cross, hospitals and evacuation centres.
The Aboitiz family of Cebu industrialists has long played an important role in disaster management in the city.
Within a day of Haiyan making landfall the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation had eight teams of five carrying out needs assessments in the worst-affected areas and then went on to mobilize 8,000 volunteers to help package relief items. They are now ready to assist in rehabilitation and are already partnering with agencies such as Islamic Relief and Plan in shelter.
The Cebu-based GENVI Corporation, a major property developer led by CEO Dindo Perez, has plans to engage in a model re-location project targeting an endangered island community with a comprehensive package of support including micro-finance, housing design and livelihood support. Details will appear shortly on www.unisdr.org.
In figures presented today by Efren Carreon, Regional Director for the National Economic Development Authority, the province has sustained some $300 million worth of losses in the agriculture sector while overall 1.6 million people have been affected and 141,000 homes have been damaged or destroyed.