Republic of the Philippines

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PHL Ambassador thanks New Zealand's minister of civil defence for visit to and additional aid for agricultural recovery in Leyte

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As New Zealand continues to extend support and assistance in the on-going and urgent reconstruction and rehabilitation of areas devastated by super typhoon Haiyan in Central Philippines last November, Minister of Civil Defence Nikki Kaye visited Palo, Leyte on 16 March 2014 and announced an additional funding of $2.5 million for the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) programme to restore the farms and livelihood of farmers and provide training for them and agricultural technicians. In a media statement issued by the Minister’s office, New Zealand’s contribution is aimed at restoring the livelihood of 128,000 vulnerable and severely affected households in rural areas and through the FAO programme, facilitate the recovery crops production for rice, corn, coconut, livestock and fishery, help farmers raise their sustainable income, diversify their food sources, upgrade their technical knowledge and skills through provision of seeds, fertilizers, tools, and training in agricultural techniques. Minister Kaye said “New Zealand knows first-hand how hard responding to natural disasters can be. We also understand that supporting individuals to restore their livelihoods is critical to the long-term recovery of communities.” She visited and interacted with farmers, families and residents of Barangay Gacao in Palo, Leyte and said “Our hearts are with you.” Minister Kaye was accompanied by New Zealand Ambassador Reuben Levermore, FAO Representative Rajendra Aryal, Department of Agriculture and local government officials and Ms. Josie Vidal, Press Secretary in Minister Kaye’s office.

The New Zealand Government’s agriculture funding of $2.5 million brings its contribution to the Philippines’ recovery, restoration and rehabilitation to $7.5 million following its initial humanitarian assistance of more than $5 million, the deployment of the RNZAF C-130 for airlift and logistical support and provision of emergency supplies and equipment in the immediate aftermath of typhoon Haiyan last year.

Ambassador Benavidez conveyed to Minister Kaye the deep appreciation of the Government and People of the Philippines for New Zealand’s steadfast commitment and collective support to help rebuild the Visayas. “We can never thank you enough for staying at our side and continuing to help the multitude of survivors who fought so hard and so well to stay alive. You have helped wipe away our tears, move our hearts, uplift our spirits and strengthen our resilience to overcome and emerge a stronger and more hopeful nation. Now that the Filipinos in the affected areas are back on their feet lifted up by the spirit of “bayanihan” (volunteerism and helping one another) from our people back home and the Filipino communities abroad, the overwhelming response from our international partners and the Philippine Government’s well-coordinated and all inclusive Yolanda Recovery and Rehabilitation Plan, reconstruction and restoration are now primarily focused on housing and shelter, employment and livelihood, power restoration, education and infrastructure,” Ambassador Benavidez stated.

Before Minister Kaye left for the Philippines, Ambassador Virginia H. Benavidez, accompanied by Minister and Consul General Arlene Gonzales Macaisa called on her on 13 March 2014 at her Office in Parliament. Ambassador Benavidez shared with her the current strategic, multi-stakeholder and multi-dimensional reconstruction programme to build back better, safer and more resilient communities in Central Philippines and reiterated the gratitude of the Filipino people for the gratifying groundswell of support from New Zealand and its people and continuing assistance and generosity to help restore livelihood and in the long-term recovery of areas greatly affected by typhoon Haiyan. Minister Kaye highlighted the work being done in the United Nations Disaster Risk Reduction committees, the importance of planning, legislation and financial frameworks for better responses to emergencies and faster recovery of communities in disaster prone areas and the objectives of her visit to Tacloban as part of the New Zealand’s continuing commitment to assist in building stronger and safer communities leveraging on its knowledge, experience and expertise in disaster preparedness, response and mitigation.

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