Benguet gets P17M calamity aid from US

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Friday, July 12, 2013


THE Province of Benguet received P17 million calamity assistance from the United States of America on July 11 channeled through Ambassador Harry Thomas, Jr.

In his speech, Thomas said July is not only a month for disaster preparation but also the month to celebrate the Filipino–American friendship, “and the better way to celebrate is helping you on disaster risk reduction.”

The fund will be for the disaster preparedness and response program Phase III of Benguet which aims to build resilience against disasters and climate change. The program is being assisted by the United States Agency for International Development implemented in partnership with World Food Programme.

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The program began in 2011 and initially covered the municipalities of Tublay, Atok, Kibungan and Kapangan. Activities included tree planting, development of early warning systems, and preparation of disaster contingency plans for each municipality.

The third phase has now expanded to cover six municipalities, including the Buguias Municipality and Baguio City and will also provide P17.6 million (US$ 420,000) to support implementation of practical and high-impact projects at the local level to help communities prepare for disasters.

The program also includes the creation of a Knowledge and Training Resource Center in partnership with the University of the Philippines-Baguio. Another partner in this activity is the Jaime V. Ongpin Foundation, which will provide training and information campaigns on effective disaster planning and response for local leaders and community members.

Thomas said: “There is this thing that I am impressed about; it is the people to people relationship. Every Filipino I met has a friend, everybody.”

He added that during his short stay in the country, he learned about kindness, family, patience which he said most Americans do not have, goodness, and the great humanity of Filipinos. He appreciated the Filipinos who taught him these values.

Meanwhile, project partner WFP Philippine Representative and Country Director Praveen Agrawal said information on climate change and disaster preparedness will just be mere data if not converted into practice. He cited Albert Einstein’s statement that information is not knowledge.

He added there are numerous facts on climate change and disaster preparedness “but if we are not able to convert that into knowledge, and rely that it will come down into the people, then I think, we could have failed and Albert Einstein would have been correct. But because of the opportunities we have here, to prove and correct that information is knowledge, we were able to make that conversion.”

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on July 13, 2013.

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