Project New Dawn: Private firms carry on ‘Yolanda’ rehab, heart over ‘Heels’
MANILA, Philippines–Seven months after Super Typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) unleashed its fury in the central Philippines, private businesses are not relenting in their campaign to rebuild heavily damaged communities.
For one, the social development organization Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) on Wednesday launched “Project New Dawn”—a continuation of its relief efforts but now coupled with long-term rehabilitation focusing on four northern Cebu municipalities right in the middle of the typhoon’s path.
These are the municipalities of Bantayan, Daanbantayan, Madridejos and Santa Fe.
Madridejos Mayor Salvador S. de la Fuente said at the launch of the project that private sector aid was among the factors that drove the towns toward recovery.
“At first, recovery seemed unbearable. Yolanda left us roofless, homeless but never hopeless, because of the immediate support shown by organizations like PBSP,” De la Fuente said.
Seeing businesses extend their helping hand “inspired us to pick up the pieces of what was left by Yolanda,” the mayor said. “The donations and assistance were very much appreciated and valued.”
But while residents of the four municipalities are looking forward to moving on, challenges remain, according to De la Fuente.
Gaps in the sectors of health, education, environment, livelihood and enterprise development, and shelter—collectively dubbed “Heels”—are what Project New Dawn will fill.
Projects worth P180M
According to Jose Antonio Y. Aboitiz, chair of PBSP’s Visayas executive committee, the organization has identified P180 million worth of projects.
The projects would involve reconstruction of critical infrastructure, such as roads, bridges, health centers and classrooms, as well as livelihood services.
To date, PBSP has raised half of these projects’ total cost. Aboitiz expressed confidence that through the kindness of their over 250 member-companies, they could even exceed the target amount.
At the pledging session on the sidelines of New Dawn’s launch, seven individuals and firms committed to support projects that would install water systems, provide feed corn seedlings, repair health centers, install mobile water filtration systems, give away school supplies, and establish sari-sari stores.
For Aboitiz, private sector participation remains important even as the government, on its own, seems capable enough to fund and implement the rehabilitation projects.
“There’s always room for the private sector to get involved in nation-building no matter how rich a country or efficient a government is,” he told reporters.
Undersecretary Danilo A. Antonio of the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery acknowledged the speed with which private businesses had been rolling out their projects.
Such a speed cannot be matched by government agencies, he said.
“In the private sector, since these are donations, they don’t have to go through stringent processes, such as approval and planning that the government goes through,” Antonio said.
People getting together
Under Project New Dawn, PBSP will spend the next 18 months raising funds, bidding out and implementing projects, and coordinating with local governments to ensure that drastic improvements happen as early as November—a year after the onslaught of Yolanda, according to the organization’s executive director Rafael C. Lopa.
Lopa said Project New Dawn would be pitched to more potential foreign donors at a conference on disaster prevention that he will attend in the United States next month.
“This will be an encompassing campaign that tells a story of people getting together and how their support is changing a situation,” he said.
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