MANILA – The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) presented yesterday to President Benigno Simeon Aquino III a set of critical immediate actions to rehabilitate areas affected by Typhoon Yolanda. These will alleviate the adverse effects of the disaster on poor families and prevent them from resorting to desperate measures just to survive, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said. 

In a cabinet meeting in Malacańang on Wednesday, NEDA outlined the urgent priorities as follows: housing, livelihood and employment, and restoration of public infrastructure and facilities. Balisacan said actions in these areas will restore normalcy and revive economic activities in the affected regions. 

“It is important to complete these critical actions as soon as possible,” said Balisacan, who is also Director-General of NEDA. “Otherwise, the already adverse impact of the disaster on poor families could be permanent and intergenerational, especially for families with small children deprived of health and education services,” Balisacan added. 

In an earlier statement, Balisacan stressed the importance of proper sequencing and coordination of government actions. 

While the recovery and rehabilitation plan consists of immediate, short-term, medium-term and long-term actions, the Wednesday cabinet meeting focused on critical actions to be immediately implemented. 

President Aquino approved these in principle but instructed cabinet members to further refine the implementation and disbursement plan for these critical immediate actions. The cabinet will meet again within the week for this. 

The critical immediate actions include: 

· Site development to provide housing and basic amenities, prioritizing families that live in “no-build zones” and thus need to be permanently resettled; 

· Housing assistance for the purchase of housing materials for affected families to be identified by the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the Department of the Interior and Local Government; 

· Cash-for-work programs integrated in clearing and construction operations in the affected areas; 

· Seedlings and other assistance to farmers and fishermen to restart agriculture and fishing activities; and 

· Repair of classrooms, public market, hospitals and other public facilities. 

Balisacan said these are part of a unified post-Yolanda recovery and rehabilitation plan, which is a work in progress, as different government agencies continue to conduct damage and loss assessments, gathering more detailed information and validating available data, in cooperation with local government units and development partners working on the ground. The plan is being prepared by an inter-agency group led by NEDA. NEDA is tasked to consolidate and integrate government plans to ensure coherence and proper coordination among agencies.