GOP, IFAD, and WFP visit to flood victims in Candaba, Pampanga, Central Philippines

On Wednesday, 21 October 2009, a team of United Nations (UN) staff from the Rome-based International Fund for Agricultual Development (IFAD) and World Food Programme (WFP), plus the United Nation Resident Cordinator (UNRC), joined President Gloria Magapagal Arroyo and several cabinet ministers of the Philippines Government during a one day visit to the flooded homes of the victims of the recent tropical storm Ondoy (international name Ketsana) and typhoon Pepeng (Parma) in the central Luzon island town of Candaba, Pampanga, the Philippines. The IFAD delegation was led by Assistant President Jessie Rose Mabutas and included Sana F. K. Jatta, Philippines Country Programme Manager, Asia and the Pacific Division. The WFP Executive Director Ms. Josette Shareen led a large contingent that included, in particular, the Philippines Country Director Steven Anderson and the WFP Goodwill Ambassador Miss K. C. Concepcion (a local celebrity television/movie star). Also the United Nations Resident Coordinator, Ms. Jacqui Badcock joined the UN delegation. On the Government side President Arroyo was joined notably by the Secretary of Agriculture, Authur Yap, plus the Secretaries of Social Welfare and that of Health, plus many more senior staff of the government.

The devastation in the town is still overwhelming and heartbreaking even several weeks after the flooding occured. Homes and streets remain submerged as there is apparently no where high enough to pump the excess water without it rushing right back; Candaba being located in the lowest point of central Luzon, while evaporation will take time as the cloud cover is still high during the rainy season!

The WFP Executive Director and her staff distributed several truck loads of food aid donated by Australia and several other countries. And during an improvised press conference, Ms. Mabutas emphasised that IFAD's contributions will be forthcoming from the recently approved Rapid Food Production Enhancement Programme (RaFPEP), notably its first sub-project, the Rapid Seeds Supply Financing Project (RaSSFiP), whose approval in December 2008 and subsequent implementation start-up in mid 2009 coincides with the urgent need to provide valuable resources for the acquisition and distribuion of paddy seeds for farmers who lost all their crop during the floods. RaSSFiP will provide no less than 803,500 bags of 40 kg bags of paddy seeds for the farmers with resources from IFAD and the European Commission.
The occassion allowed the UN family, particularly the Rome-based food agencies (IFAD and WFP), to show solidarity with the plight of the victims of the double natural disasters, while the country was brazing itself for another typhoon warning expected to hit the northern parts of Luzon island during the weekend.

Picture 1 shows Ms. Mabutas right behind President Arroyo, on whose left is the WFP Executive Director and on whose left is the local TV/Film star Ms. K. C. Concepcion;

Picture 2 shows some children of Candaba, Ms. Mabutas, and Sana F.K. Jatta, trying the floating bridge on a flooded street of Candaba;

Picture 3 shows two children and a woman, in the far background, wading through waist-deep water on a street of Candaba right infront their of houses;

Picture 4 shows Ms. Mabutas and some children in front of a flooded house that still has much mud in the front yard;

Pictures 5 and 6 are the new-improvished and former flooded homes of the same family, with the head of the household shown on the picture to be still able to smile despite the disaster.

This blog was posted by Sana F. K. Jatta, Country Programme Manager, Asia and the Pacific Division, IFAD, temporarily using the authorship rights of Roi Avena, Philippines Country Programme Management Team member.