Haiyan cash pledges: PH gets only 20%

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

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To help rebuild the Philippines, a UN official appeals for more aid from countries that tend to 'forget'

TO THE RESCUE. A Canadian medic checks on a child in an evacuation center outside of Roxas City, Capiz after Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). File photo from the Canadian embassy in Manila

MANILA, Philippines – Flooded by cries for help, countries pledged up to P23.798 billion ($538.978 million) in aid soon after Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) ravaged the Philippines in November 2013.

But two months later, as victims slowly stop weeping to start rebuilding, the money has been coming in trickles.

The Philippines as of Friday, January 17, has received less than a quarter of the cash that at least 58 countries and groups promised.

The Philippines’ Foreign Aid Transparency Hub (FAITH) says the international community pledged P2.8 billion ($63.418 million) in cash and P20.998 billion ($475.56 million) in non-cash items.

Of the cash pledges, the country has received P592.58 million ($12.337 million). That’s only 21.16% of the money vowed by the rest of the world.

“What we heard them say at the height of the Yolanda relief operations versus what you see them now delivering by way of cash, there’s a big disparity,” Budget Secretary Butch Abad said.

A United Nations (UN) official said countries tend to “forget.”

It’s the same thing that happened in Haiti, which a magnitude-7 earthquake devastated in January 2010.

Two years after countries promised it $4.5 billion in aid, only 53% of aid reached Haiti, according to UN figures cited by The Guardian in 2012.

Abad, however, offered an explanation based on the fiscal process. “It is also possible that most of their funds have already been committed” to other priorities toward the end of 2013, he said.

For him, this is “not an issue because we know that this is the case.”

“A lot of the fund-raising would have to be done at the start of this year, when new funds are available. So that may likely explain the huge disparity between what we read in the papers during the height of the relief operations,” Abad said. (READ: Foreign aid: Process from donor to beneficiaries)

More aid, please

OTHER DONORS. Shoichi, 6, donates contents of his piggy bank to Haiyan victims. In return, he receives a package of jeepney toys and a T-shirt from the Philippines. File photo from the Philippine embassy in Tokyo


Not all donations pass through the Philippine government. Other agencies can give directly to affected communities.


From its own coffers, the typhoon-hit country also alloted P100 billion ($2.264 billion) for rehabilitation. (READ: Aquino signs P2.265-T 2014 budget)


Still, the Philippines appeals for more aid.


Ambassador Libran Cabactulan, the Philippines’ permanent representative to the UN, urged donors to support the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) recovery program in Eastern Visayas.


Cabactulan co-chaired a briefing for donors that included Australia, Canada, Denmark, the European Union, Finland, Indonesia, Japan, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Russia, South Korea, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom


For rebuilding, the Philippines needs P360.9 billion ($8.17 billion) in a span of 4 years. (READ: PH needs P361B for post-Yolanda rehab)


‘We tend to forget’

FOR THEIR FUTURE. The Philippine government needs P361 billion to rebuild the lives of over 16 million people affected by Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). File photo by Jonathan Hyams/Save the Children


Cabactulan’s co-chair in the briefing, UNDP associate administrator Rebecca Grynspan, said early recovery “remains an underfunded component in disaster response,” according to a statement from the Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs on Thursday, January 16. 


“Because of other crises, like those in Africa, we tend to forget past crisis,” Grynspan said.


Discussing aid in the context of conflict, experts Shepard Forman and Stewart Patrick said this is a problem for countries in need. In their book Good Intentions: Pledges of Aid for Postconflict Recovery, Forman and Patrick said it is “of concern that much of the aid pledged by the international community arrives only after considerable delays.”


“In the words of the World Bank, ‘Pledges are made, but commitment takes longer, and there is a considerable lag before actual disbursement takes place. Sustainable transitions out of conflict take several years, yet there is a tendency for donors to disengage once the conflict has receded from public attention,” the authors wrote.


Writing for the Minnesota Journal of International Law, Katherine Pasker said pledges after natural disasters should become “legally enforceable.”


“Pledge fulfillment will empower chronically affected states to receive the necessary assistance and prompt accountability from pledging states,” Pasker said. – Rappler.com


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Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email pat.esmaquel@rappler.com