WITH the help of a new facility, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) now hopes to quickly deliver more food packs and prevent spoilage of relief goods whenever a disaster strikes the country.
That, after officials from DSWD and World Food Programme (WFP) inaugurated yesterday the Visayas Disaster Response Center (VDRC) at the Pacific Traders Compound in Barangay Casuntingan, Mandaue City.
WFP is the food assistance branch of the United Nations and the world’s largest humanitarian organization addressing hunger and promoting food security.
The center is part of the Disaster Preparedness and Response Capacity Enhancement Project of the DSWD and WFP to enhance emergency response and “decentralize government commodity-packing capacity.”
The VDRC, which sits in a 5,000 square-meter property, was built for storage and operations. It has spaces for offices and training facilities.
When super typhoon Yolanda hit the country in November 2013, Cebu became the hub for all relief efforts and assistance from DSWD and other countries.
That was the reason DSWD chose Cebu as the site for the center.
“The center will preposition goods in a manner that you will not again see any rice spilled. It is also packing (goods) in a manner where it will be hard to repack. It is packing in a way that when you move it from one place to another it won’t get wet and be affected by spoilage. These are all lessons we learned in 2013,” said DSWD Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman, who led the inauguration of the VDRC.
She was joined by United Nations-WFP National Ambassador Against Hunger Kristina Cassandra “KC” Concepcion, DSWD Undersecretary Vilma Cabrera and Praveen Agrawal, representative and country director of WFP-Philippines.
The WFP provided $1.2 million or around P55 million (at P46 to the dollar) for the VDRC, including its machinery, renovation, electronics and training of staff.
Agrawal said they also invested $200,000 or P9.2 million (at P46 to the dollar) in rentals for one year period of the compound where the VDRC is located.
WFP has a two-year lease contract on the area.
It was not disclosed, however, as to how much is the counterpart of DSWD, the government’s lead agency for relief operations.
“We have complemented together for one purpose only. Should the need arise, we will be able to respond faster (or) quicker and save lives. Otherwise, there is no need for preparedness. There is no need for a machine. The ultimate goal is to save lives,” Agrawal said.
During the inauguration, sacks of rice were repacked into bags of six kilos with the help of a machine.
From the bagging area, the rice will pass through a weighing scale to check if the repacked goods reached the desired weight.
The volunteers will then place the rice in a box along with two canned sardines, two canned beef loaf and six sachets of coffee.
The box will then pass through the box closing machine, after which a volunteer will write the expiration date on the box.
The VDRC can produce 50,000 family food packs in a day, which is enough to feed 250,000 people for three days.
Concepcion turned emotional during the inauguration when she thanked the international agencies that helped the Filipinos.