US, South Korea grant P111M to help PH tackle climate risks

WITH its frequent typhoons, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, the Philippines has the highest disaster risks among 193 countries, prompting two development agencies to help strengthen the country’s climate resilience systems, according to the US Embassy in the Philippines.

Last March 22, the United States government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Korea International Cooperation Agency (Koica) signed a P111.5 million ($2 million) grant partnership agreement to boost the capacities of six Philippine cities—Batangas, Legazpi, Borongan, Iloilo, Cotabato and Zamboanga—to adapt to, mitigate and manage the impacts of natural disasters and climate change, the embassy said in a statement.

Through the grant funds, Koica would support the USAID’s five-year P836.5 million ($15 million) Climate Resilient Cities Project in the six cities.

More specifically, Koica will provide technical aid to improve the capacity of the cities to create guidelines for and use climate adaptation technology.

Over 180 Philippine officials and stakeholders are seen to join these capacity building programs to be organized in the Philippines and Korea.

USAID and Koica will also help the cities and other stakeholders spread climate-related information to locals more effectively, increase access to climate financing for economic and social development, and promote natural climate solutions for greater resilience to climate change.

“As the United States and Korea are among the largest bilateral donors in the Philippines, this momentous partnership of USAID, Koica and the Philippine government will bring together our accumulated experience and technical expertise to build climate change and disaster resilience in the country,” Koica Country Director Eunsub Kim said.

“For 70 years, the United States and Korea have worked together to pursue mutual goals based on our core values of democracy and human rights,” said USAID Philippines Mission Director Ryan Washburn.

“The United States has pledged to strengthen this alliance and broaden the focus to address issues of critical importance to the Indo-Pacific region and the world. In particular, we will deepen our cooperation in addressing the climate crisis, reducing plastic waste and promoting advanced technologies. We will also enhance our economic cooperation and people-to-people ties,” he added.

High risk

According to the US Embassy, the Philippines “consistently places high in global rankings on climate change risk and vulnerability with its average of 20 typhoons a year and frequent floods and landslides.”

It cited the 2022 World Risk Index as placing the Philippines first among 193 countries in terms of disaster risks, with P670 billion worth of damage and losses due to typhoons alone from 2011 to 2021 that have hampered economic development and worsened poverty.

Last October, the Philippine Statistics Authority 7 said the number of poor Filipinos in Central Visayas increased by almost 10 percent in 2021 due to the effects of the coronavirus disease pandemic and Typhoon Odette (Rai).

This translated to an increase in the poverty incidence in Central Visayas to 27.6 percent from 17.7 percent in 2018.

To further mark the 70th anniversary of their alliance this year, the governments of the United States and the Republic of Korea announced that they would also soon partner to prevent and reduce marine pollution in Manila Bay.