22 July 2014, Manila – As communities throughout the region prepare for approaching seasonal floods and storms, recovery efforts are still under way in the Philippines where typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) affected more than 14 million people, shattered livelihoods and destroyed crucial public infrastructure in November 2013.
To discuss the key issues around effective disaster preparedness and recovery, the Prudence Foundation, the charitable arm of Pru Life UK, and CSR Asia held the second Disaster Preparedness Forum bringing together more than 150 participants from the business, government, humanitarian and development sectors from around the Asia-Pacific region.
Opened by Secretary Herminio “Sonny” B. Coloma, Jr., Head of the Presidential Communications Operations Office, discussions at the Forum focused on the role of the private sector in post-disaster recovery efforts.
An Exposure Paper titled “Effective and Sustainable Recovery – The Role of the Private Sector”, commissioned by the Prudence Foundation and prepared by CSR Asia, was launched at the Forum. The Exposure Paper will be updated to capture key insights from the Forum to show effective ways for the private sector to help prepare the region’s disaster-prone economies better cope with future disasters. The final White Paper is scheduled to be published in September 2014.
“There is a need and opportunity for businesses to look beyond the short term needs after a disaster and support mid- to long-term recovery efforts in cooperation with the humanitarian and government sectors,” said Don Kanak, Chairman of Prudential Corporation Asia, and a trustee of the Prudence Foundation. He added: “This Forum creates an open dialogue between various sectors about the key issues around disaster recovery and how they can be resolved more effectively. We hope it results in more businesses playing a part in recovery efforts.”
In March 2014, Prudence Foundation began a partnership with Habitat for Humanity Philippines (Habitat) to build 135 disaster-resilient homes in Santa Fe, Bantayan Island, Cebu as well as support sustainable livelihood through a contribution of 183 motorized boats with fishnets and 140 pedicabs or cycle rickshaws. Mobilizing over 100 employees from 12 Asian countries and the United Kingdom, Prudence Foundation is the first organization to execute a post-Yolanda housebuilding project across the Philippines with Habitat.
Pru Life UK President and CEO and Prudence Foundation trustee Antonio Manuel De Rosas said, “We believe that a progressing community supports a thriving business, and the private sector has an important function in supporting growth in the midst of interferences like Yolanda and other natural calamities. It is our responsibility to explore ways to contribute in cultivating preparedness and to respond to the challenges brought about by disasters for long-term development.”
Highlighting the need to incorporate disaster preparedness in recovery efforts, Richard Welford, Chairman of CSR Asia, said “There is considerable synergy in ensuring that the most vulnerable groups are better equipped to cope with disasters and rebuild their lives in a way that provides new economic opportunities and reduces that vulnerability. The private sector can help by investing in the sustainable recovery and development of local communities. This holds the opportunity to create value for both vulnerable communities and businesses themselves.”