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FAO warns of the risk of a double tragedy in the Philippines

Additional $11 million needed to support typhoon-affected farmers to clear land, clean canals and ensure harvests for 2014

Photo: ©REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay
Funds are urgently needed to help farmers clear their land and plant their crops.
27 November 2013, Manila – Immediate assistance from the international community for Philippine farmers is critical to avoid a double tragedy befalling rural survivors of Typhoon Haiyan, FAO announced today.

FAO is calling on the donor community to urgently step forward and provide more than $11 million to get money to rural people to help clean and clear agricultural land and de-silt irrigation canals in the aftermath of the devastation caused by the typhoon.

The Philippine Department of Agriculture has requested that FAO support this cash-for-work scheme, covering more than 150 000 hectares and some 80 kilometres of communal irrigation canals. Placed in perspective, it takes 10 person-days to clear just one hectare of farmland. Funding is also needed for some 1 400 communal irrigation pumps.

The call for assistance is in addition to the $20 million already requested by FAO to help typhoon-affected farmers plant, fertilize, irrigate and maintain their crops to ensure the next harvests in 2014.

“We are in a race against time,” said Rodrigue Vinet, Senior Officer in charge of FAO’s programme in the Philippines. “There is an immediate need for resources to help farmers clear their land and plant their crops. Therefore, we need to make the required purchases now and provide substantial resources directly to farmers to help them through this period.”

Urgency of timing

FAO is calling on the international donor community to recognize the urgency of the situation and contribute to the government’s efforts in meeting this critical recovery initiative without delay.

“The urgency of timing can’t be overstated,” said Dominique Burgeon, Director of FAO's Emergency and Rehabilitation Division. “It would be a double tragedy if next spring farming families still needed to rely on continued humanitarian food assistance because we haven’t been able to support them as they recover from this disaster.”

FAO has so far mobilized over $7 million for emergency interventions in the Philippines, partly covered by its own resources and donations from Belgium, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the Central Emergency Response Fund.