UN, Government of Japan donate P337.5 million to ‘Odette’ victims

Residents pass by the landslide caused by typhoon Odette in Surigao City.

The United Nations said the Government of Japan has donated $6 million, or P337.5 million, to support the new initiatives by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and the World Food Programme (WFP) for farmers and fisherfolk affected by typhoon “Odette” (international code name Rai), in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

“We have collaborated with WFP and FAO on a number of initiatives aimed at improving resilience and achieving peace and development in Mindanao. It is critical to have stable living conditions, food security and nutrition for all in order to achieve peace,” said Koshikawa Kazuhiko, Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines, at the signing ceremony held at the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) office on Wednesday.

The Japanese envoy added that the latest project by WFP will add “greater meaning” to achieving peace and progress, not only in BARMM but also across Mindanao.

Further, the envoy said their partnership with the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) will help farmers and fisherfolk severely affected by Odette “restore their livelihoods and build their resilience against future climate-related shocks.”

“Through such endeavours, I sincerely hope that this genuine concern from the Japanese people reaches thousands of severely affected Filipinos,” said the Japanese Ambassador.

The ceremony was also attended by WFP Philippines Representative and Country Director, Brenda Barton, and FAO Representative ad interim in the Philippines, Sheila Wertz-Kanounnikoff.

The United Nations said in a news statement issued on Wednesday that $4 million or P225 million will go to WFP to support a two-year project that aims to improve the livelihoods, food security and nutrition of smallholder farmers and fisherfolk and strengthen their inclusion in the agricultural value chain through improved market linkages, enhanced agricultural productivity and Social and Behaviour Change Communication activities.

Around 7,500 farmers and fisherfolk households in BARMM, including decommissioned combatants and indigenous peoples, will benefit from the WFP project.

“They will be participating in activities such as construction of roads, establishing storage facilities and communal irrigation systems, agro-forestry planting and establishment of nurseries—all designed to enhance their productivity sustainably,” said UN in the same statement.

Moreover, WFP will introduce the farmers to the use of Farm2Go, a WFP-owned digital platform, which will digitally connect farmers to markets, allowing them to sell their produce at competitive prices.

“I would like to thank the Japanese government and its people for their unparalleled support of our operations in the Philippines. This contribution will make a difference in the lives of farmers and fisherfolk and their families in Mindanao, an area where WFP has been supporting the BARMM government to achieve food security,” said Brenda Barton, the WFP Philippines Representative and Country Director.

Meanwhile $2 million, or P112.5 million, of the contribution of the Japanese government will be allotted by FAO for the implementation of a humanitarian initiative that will support the restoration of the livelihoods and the enhancement of the resilience of 20,000 small-scale coconut farmers and fishers affected by Odette in Regions 7, 8, and 13, said the UN.

The UN said that through this partnership, which complements government response efforts to the disaster, FAO will provide farmers and fishers with agricultural and fishery inputs and complement these with capacity-building on climate-resilient agriculture technologies and the use of climate information and early warning systems.

As for long-term food and nutrition security, the inputs and training will enable farmers to establish alternative and additional livelihoods and sources of income to avoid dependence on food aid.

“We are truly grateful for this contribution by the government and the people of Japan to help Filipinos whose livelihoods and lives were greatly affected by the Typhoon Rai disaster, to get back on their feet and lead productive lives,” said FAO’s Wertz-Kanounnikoff.

“We are greatly humbled by the faith and trust of Japan in FAO’s capacity to undertake such a noble initiative. But more importantly, this generous gesture is testament not only to the continuing and strong partnership between FAO and the Japanese Government, but more so between Japan and the Philippines,” she added.

Image credits: Greenpeace/Jilson Tiu


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