Iloilo gets $1-m project grant

Iloilo City, Iloilo - The province of Iloilo is a recipient of a US$1.1-million (P43 million) grant to establish resiliency of localities against disasters caused by climate change.

The grant agreement was signed during the launch of Project Resilience Capacity Building for Cities and Municipalities to Reduce Disaster Risks from Climate Change and Natural Hazards-Phase 1 (Project ReBUILD) last July 8 in this city.

Project ReBUILD is administered by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)-Philippines, with funding from the New Zealand Aid Programme (NewZAID), and implemented by the Climate Change Commission, under the Office of the President.

The project chose five localities in Iloilo surrounding Jalaur River whose local government's capacities in adapting to climate change will be strengthened to help them avert destruction in their areas when natural disasters strike. These localities are the towns of Calinog, Dumangas, Pototan, and Zarraga, and Passi City.

Secretary Mary Ann Lucille Sering, vice chairperson of Climate Change Commission, said that identifying geo-hazard areas will not only save lives but is also an integral component in a locality's socio-economic development.

Sering said, for instance, that farmers should no longer plant in areas identified as flood-prone and would have to find other means of livelihood, instead.

For his part, New Zealand Ambassador Reuben Levermore, who came to Iloilo for the launching of Project ReBUILD, said the project will look into improving growth and development in the context of climate change.

Also present during the project launch was UNDP-Philippines Country Director Toshihiro Tanaka who said the project will ensure that adequate climate risk management will be made part of any planning for development programs.

The memorandum of agreement for Project ReBUILD was signed by Levermore, Sering, Tanaka, and Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Sr.

Also present were Mayors Alex Centena of Calinog, Rolando Distura of Dumangas, Jesry Palmares of Passi City, Tomas Peñaflorida of Pototan, and John Tarroza of Zarraga.

To recall, on June 2008, Typhoon "Frank" hit Iloilo, causing the worst flashflood to occur in the province. Over 130 people perished, 103 were missing and as much as 1.6 million people were displaced by the calamity.

The flashflood also caused billions of pesos in damage to agriculture products and infrastructures.

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