AUSTRALIA continues to be a “good friend and neighbor” to the Philippines as shown not a few times.
One of the latest instances refers to the aftermath of Typhoon Ompong (international name: Mangkhut), which hit Cagayan province in Northern Luzon on September 15, its first landfall.Image: The world famous Opera House in Sydney, Australia. (Pixabay)
Ompong’s wrath around 76,000 houses (12,528 were totally destroyed and 65,408 partially), and affected over 170,000 people in the province per a Rappler report then.
The Australian Embassy in the Philippines headed by Ambassador Amanda Gorely did not lose time in helping out the victims, providing help to 2,000 farmer families in the amount of AUD600,000 (some Php23 million) in assistance.
Gorely assured his country’s constancy of goodwill in a statement reaching SDN — Scitech and Digital News.
“Australia is a good friend and neighbor, and we are committed to helping families affected by Typhoon Ompong,” Australia’s top diplomat in the said. “We are supporting farmers to rebuild their livelihood, and we are assisting their families with cash and in-kind support to help them get back on their feet.”
Australia has partnered with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to implement the emergency assistance.
The partnership calls for the FAO to distribute fertilizers to the farming families to complement the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) provision of rice seeds, and vegetable seeds as alternative short-term income source while waiting for the next harvest season early next year.
Aside from the distribution of fertilizers, FAO will also provide technical support through production-related training. The interventions are meant to assist the vulnerable farming families who missed the harvest season in October due to Ompong.
The farming families of Cagayan need all the help they can get as Ompong left a trail of destruction in agriculture in Northern Luzon to the tune of around Php14 billion as the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) reported a few days after the typhoon made landfall in Baggao, Cagayan.
The NDRRMC placed the number of people affected at 218,492 families (893,844 individuals).
Jose Luis Fernandez, representative of FAO in the Philippines, cited the significance of the assistance.
“The Australian Government’s contribution is critical and timely in helping the affected farming families to get back on their feet again,” said Fernandez.
“If not immediately addressed, this may lead to food insecurity and malnutrition, and more financial difficulties as these farmers try to recoup and recover from their losses,” he added.
The Australian Embassy said the WFP will roll out an emergency cash-based program to address food security and nutrition needs of the farming families, a one-off cash provision representing 10 days of minimum wage for agricultural workers in the area.
Australia’s cash assistance was just in time as the next harvest is still to come, which Stephen Gluning, WFP Philippines representative and country director, noted.“WFP is grateful to the Australian Government for their generous support, which allows us to provide cash assistance to safeguard the food security of the affected farmers and their families while awaiting the next harvest,” said Gluning.
In relation with the assistance from the Australian government, one may recall a Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) report as of June 3-, 2017 on the poverty incidence in the country.
The PSA report covered nine of the 14 basic sectors named in Republic Act 8425, otherwise known as the Social Reform and Poverty Alleviation Act.
“Among the nine basic sectors,” the PSA said, “farmers, fishermen and children coming from families with below the official poverty threshold or poor families posted the highest poverty incidences in 2015 at 34.3 percent, 34 percent and 31.4 percent, respectively.”
Not only that, the three sectors of farmers, fishermen and children have consistently been the ones with the highest poverty incidence in 2006, 2009 and 2013, the PSA pointed. (EKU)
About Australian Aid:
Australia’s aid program aligns with the priorities of the Philippine Government, which is seeking to put the country on the path of accelerated and inclusive development. The Philippines program is designed to meet the key objectives of inclusive economic growth, effective governance, and peace and stability. For more information, visit https://philippines.embassy.gov.au/mnla/australianaid.html