THE Australian government is investing around P630 million (A$18 million) in programs aimed at strengthening disaster and climate resilience capacity of local governments in the Philippines over the next six years.
In a statement, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in the Philippines said it signed the agreement with the Australian government for the new initiative called Strengthening Institutions and Empowering Localities against Disasters and Climate Change Program (SHIELD).
SHIELD will be implemented in 10 provinces that are most vulnerable to the impacts of disaster and climate change. The areas would be finalized after consultations with the government.
The initiative would also cover Metro Manila, because of its economic significance and vulnerability to earthquakes, and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) since its conflict-affected areas which were said to be “susceptible to increasing disaster and climate impacts.”
“Enhancing resilience remains a high priority for Australia, particularly in the Philippines, which is extremely vulnerable to disasters and the impacts of climate change. Through SHIELD, we will work with governments, private sector, civil society and academic institutions to enhance and sustain community resilience,” Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Steven J. Robinson AO said in a statement.
The UNDP will implement SHIELD together with its consortium partners UN-Habitat, Philippine Business for Social Progress, National Resilience Council, and the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society.
“Through SHIELD, our ultimate aim is for our target communities to be safer and more resilient to the impacts of natural hazards and climate change, taking also into account the lessons brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. It bears noting that the program also puts importance on gender equality, disability, and social inclusion in the context of resilience-building,” UNDP Philippines Resident Representative Selva Ramachandran said.
The Australian government’s foreign affairs and trade department estimated it had extended a total of $80 million in official development assistance (ODA) to the Philippines between 2020 to 2021. — Angelica Y. Yang