ILOILO, 18 February 2015 – The first stakeholders’ meeting and inception workshop was held on 17-18 February in Iloilo City, Philippines, to launch the Adopt-a-Municipality for Resilient Recovery – a project under the ASEAN Assistance for the Recovery of Yolanda-Affected Areas in the Philippines.

The Adopt-a-Municipality project is an initiative of ASEAN in modeling a post-disaster framework for resilient recovery planning that will feed into a risk-sensitive comprehensive land use planning at the local level. The project aims to provide technical assistance to four pilot areas: municipalities of Badiangan and Mina in Iloilo Province and the municipalities of Palo and Ormoc City in Leyte Province.

According to ASEAN Deputy Secretary-General Alicia Bala, this project will enable the four pilot areas to “bounce forward” instead of “bounce back” and help operationalize the principle of “building-back-better-faster-and-safer” towards reducing vulnerability and increasing resilience to disasters. She noted that this project is also a continuing manifestation of ASEAN solidarity towards building a “caring and sharing ASEAN Community.”

In her welcome remarks, Assistant Secretary Gina dela Cruz of the Philippines’ Office of the Presidential Assistant on Recovery and Rehabilitation (OPARR) emphasized the importance of evidence and science-based disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation as bases of the comprehensive land use plan.

About 50 key local government officials including the mayors of the four pilot areas participated in the Inception Workshop together with representatives from OPARR, Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Social Welfare and Development, and Office of Civil Defense, which comprise the ARYA Project Steering Committee.

In November 2013, super typhoon Haiyan (local name: Yolanda) struck 12 provinces and 171 cities and municipalities in the Philippines causing the death of 6,300 people, while the injured numbered 28,689 and the missing persons, 1,061. More than a million houses were damaged of which 489,613 houses were completely destroyed. About 4 million people or 900,000 families were displaced due to the destruction brought about by storm surges, destructive winds and floods in the so-called Yolanda Corridor. ASEAN co-convened a High-Level Conference on Assistance for the Recovery of Yolanda-Affected Areas together with OPARR and Department of Foreign Affairs in August 2014.

The Adopt-a-Municipality project will be a more lasting and concrete support of ASEAN for the communities affected by Typhoon Yolanda as it will help enhance the capacity of local governments and stakeholders for resilient recovery and long-term sustainable development through comprehensive land use planning that factors in disaster and climate risks.

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