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Tacloban now part of USAID’s Cities Development Initiative

/ 09:22 PM June 10, 2014

AP FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—Tacloban City in Leyte, an area badly hit by Super Typhoon “Yolanda,” (Haiyan) is now part of the Cities Development Initiative (CDI) of United States Agency for International Aid (USAID).

“I am proud we can come in and work with the city. It wasn’t originally part of the CDI but now it will be to help them rebuild.  I’m proud that after the humanitarian side, we’re now talking about rebuilding and rehabilitating,” said Denise Rolins, USAID’s Acting Assistant Administrator for Asia on Tuesday.

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Rollins is in the country for a six-day visit from June 6 to 11, and from Manila she toured areas in Mindanao and Tacloban City.

Cagayan de Oro, Iloilo and Batangas were originally the pilot cities under CDI, which seeks to “ignite secondary cities as engines of economic growth.”

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“You have a mayor who is very committed to development the city… If you partner with leadership that wants to get something done, you begin to see results,” she said of Cagayan de Oro.

In Tacloban, she led the launch of USAID Rebuild, the US government’s rehabilitation program in Typhoon Yolanda-affected areas. Overall, the US government support is estimated at approximately $142.5 million in response to Yolanda.

“I’m coming seven months after the typhoon hit, so I didn’t see the initial effects. But you can see that people are starting to recover. You see housing that’s going back up, housing and office buildings that are being renovated. You can see a lot of improvement,”  she said.

It was still “very difficult” for Rollins to see the current situation even after seven months. Families are still in tents and “living just kind of hand to mouth.”

They pledged to build 165 classrooms and teaching kits in the Leyte province. They will also construct health facilities, as well as introduce climate adaptive technologies to farmers and fisherfolk.

She also inaugurated the first two of the 1,000 sari-sari stores that will be constructed and rehabilitated by Procter & Gamble and Coca-Cola.

In Manila, she also led the events emphasizing USAID’s increasing focus on science, technology, innovation and partnerships. She delivered remarks on Tuesday at the workshop series by USAID called “The Future Innovations for Mobile Computing in the Philippines” at the Intercontinental Manila in Makati.

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Rollins said she will have a “positive story to tell” once she comes back home, after being “thrilled and impressed” with what she has witnessed here.  She is expected to give a testimony before the US Congress on USAID’s budget and programs.

She also lauded the Philippine leadership, saying the leaders are eager to get over the hurdles that are slowing down development.

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