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Food aid to continue – DSWD

Cebu City, Cebu – “We will continue to provide family food packs,” Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Corazon Soliman assured during her recent visit here, addressing talk being floated that government will stop giving such assistance to victims of super typhoon Yolanda by the end of March.

“I would like to emphasize that we will not stop giving family food packs,” Soliman said, stressing however that “by the end of this month we will make an assessment as to how many families will still need our support.”

The DSWD secretary explained that with the implementation of the agency’s cash-for-work program, some disaster-affected families can already start to provide for their own needs. “I don’t think they would like to eat canned goods everyday,” she said.

Soliman informed that for the Eastern Visayas region alone, some P150 million has been allocated for asset-rebuilding efforts for the month of March. “That amount includes funds for the cash-for-work program,” she said.

The national government has so far spent over P3 billion for food packs distribution alone, and Soliman assured that “we are not worried” in terms of supplies since private and international partners have pitched in to sustain efforts in this aspect.

Included in donations given by such “private and international partners” mentioned by Soliman are 10,000 metric tons of rice from the World Food Program, another 45,000 sacks of rice from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and other rice donations from China and Algeria.

Meanwhile, Soliman agreed with Tuburan Mayor Democrito Diamante, the Cebu chapter president of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines, who had said that over four months after Yolanda struck, rehabilitation efforts in typhoon-battered northern Cebu is, at best, only 20 to 30 percent effective.

“That’s true. This is just about people getting to where they were before,” she said citing that the biggest challenge now is to provide more stable houses to the victims in preparation for the wet season.

“We would like to move them from tents to transitional and permanent houses, where they are safer,” Soliman said as she informed that another 300 “butterfly” houses are expected in Eastern Visayas by April. The latter refers to a steel-framed structure that can be folded for compact shipping and storage, then unfolded into an immediately livable structure. The housing system is quick to deploy to its target areas and can be set up in about five minutes.