ADB Completes First Mission, Initial Assessment of Typhoon-damaged Areas

US Executive Director Robert Orr, left, and Vice President Stephen Groff, center, meet with UN officials during a recent mission to Tacloban to discuss ADB's role in recovery and rehabilitation.

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has completed its first mission to areas in the Philippines hardest hit by Typhoon Yolanda, conducting rapid assessments in Leyte, Samar, central and northern Roxas, and north, central and southern Cebu that will help form the basis of ADB’s role in government-led reconstruction plans.

ADB’s initial pledge of $23 million in immediate assistance and $500 million in long-term reconstruction loans is likely to rise. They come atop ongoing ADB support to the Philippines' national conditional cash program, through which ADB will partially finance cash grants to about 200,000 poor households in impacted areas, including nearly 70,000 households in severely affected areas.

“While we will need to get more information from the assessment teams, it is clear that reconstruction will be a massive challenge,” said ADB Vice President Stephen Groff, who recently visited the area. “As with many such disasters, some of the most difficult challenges will be in carrying out the principle of ‘building back better’ – including rezoning and its enforcement – as people and business get back on track.”

 

Mr. Groff described the destruction as “breathtaking,” noting that a bald swath of destroyed homes and buildings, downed power lines, and toppled trees is clearly visible from the air. Coconut trees – which can take 12 to 20 years to mature – were littered like matchsticks, presenting an acute crisis for farmers and emphasizing the need for livelihood programs.

While in Leyte, Mr. Groff met with local officials and UN personnel coordinating the humanitarian effort. Needs are widespread, he noted, with the power sector, roads, airports, and ports struggling to keep up with the demands of the relief effort.

Some small business activity has already returned to Tacloban, where people are selling everything from bananas to clothing, Mr. Groff said in praise of the spirit of resilience and entrepreneurialism that has been a hallmark of the Filipino response to the disaster.

An ADB team also participated in last week’s multisector initial rapid assessment in order to provide a basis for UN-led humanitarian appeal priorities and to feed into the government-led Yolanda Recovery and Reconstruction Plan. ADB’s Yolanda Response Team, a technical grouping of more than 50 staff with post-disaster experience, has helped form the first phase of the government-led action plan.