LEGAZPI CITY — Albay Gov. Joey Salceda has urged foreign donors to start giving cash relief to the Philippines or donate to the World Food Programme, an agency with proven expertise in addressing protracted humanitarian crises, to help expedite positive impacts and improve aid effectiveness.
Salceda, co-chair of the United Nations (UN) Green Climate Fund, said foreign donors must abide by the five guiding principles of the Paris Aid Effectiveness – ownership, alignment, harmonization, results and mutual accountability, and of the Accra Agenda for Action – capacity development, inclusive partnerships, delivering results and capacity development.
“We see never ending convoys of trucks with relief items, but cash remains the best form of relief,” Salceda stressed, reiterating his previous call for cash relief, 10 days after Yolanda’s devastation, to help stir the ravaged economy back to life.
Salceda also said all relief distributions should be channeled now to the local government units for a well coordinated relief effort in the aftermath of “Yolanda”. This should save on an oversized manpower and equipment on the ground – most specifically the US military personnel – that should otherwise be put to better use.
Discerning about the disaster victims’ actual needs and a capability for a smooth relief operation, the WFP worked with Albay after the devastation of typhoon “Reming” in 2006, “with excellent results,” the governor shared.
Two lawmakers, Mel Senen Sarmiento and Ben Evardone of Western and Eastern Samar, respectively, have immediately joined Salceda’s call for local and foreign donors to shift to cash relief assistance to their provinces.
“On the 10th day you need cash as a rule (of thumb). The market should begin to function again. Those who have no cash should be given cash,” Salceda said, adding that cash would give survivors some sense of autonomy to decide for themselves and start rebuilding their lives.
The governor said the utilization the skilled and highly paid US military personnel in simple relief distribution does not maximize and only underrates their value. The tasks, he added, “are better left to locals.”
“It is very apparent to the well experienced, their low utilization, if not low level impact, are due to lack of coordination on the ground. You can almost feel ‘na control freak ang buong operation’,” he noted, adding government, foreign and civic organizations bringing assistance to the Vizayas should recognize and respect the supremacy of local communities and local government units in response, relief, early recovery and reconstruction.
“We should bring back our trust in the barangays’ in identifying priorities in disaster response and relief distribution,” Salceda stressed.
“So, it is time for them to coordinate with local authorities not just with the AFP; the multinational coordinating center can rationalize the geographic concentration of specialized skills and capabilities like say, the IDF in Eastern Samar, and sanitation and water filtation in Tacloban,” he added.
The UN has appealed for more aid for the typhoon victims last week, increasing the original amount it sought to raise from P2 billion to P15 billion. (PNA)
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