Philippines vows to build back better 100 days after typhoon

The Philippines vowed Sunday to "build back better" 100 days after its deadliest typhoon left thousands dead and millions without homes. Acknowledging that huge gaps in rehabilitation remained despite progress in humanitarian work, the government urged all Filipinos and donor agencies to keep extending support to those still vulnerable. "As we mark the 100th day after super typhoon Yolanda (local name of Haiyan), the government is firmly determined to carry out massive rehabilitation efforts in all 171 municipalities and cities affected by this unprecedented calamity," said presidential spokesman Herminio Coloma. He said the disaster-prone country "must break the cycle of prediction, devastation and rehabilitation by adopting the principle of build back better" following the deadly storm. Haiyan slammed into the central Visayas region on November 8 last year with winds of up to 315 kilometres (195 miles) an hour, triggering unprecedented destruction that left four million without homes. It triggered huge tsunami-like storm surges that swallowed entire villages, killing at least 6,200 people with 2,000 others still missing. The United Nations in a statement Sunday said that 100 days on, "needs remain enormous". It called on government and aid agencies not to be complacent and to find ways to house those still without roofs over their heads. "The need for durable shelter for millions of people whose homes were damaged or destroyed is critical," said UN resident humanitarian coordinator Luiza Carvalho. She said that 45 percent of the 788 million dollar appeal the UN had launched had already been received, and it had benefited hundreds of thousands. Some half a million families had already received tents and tarpaulins for temporary shelters, while emergency jobs programmes helped put money in survivors' pockets and revive local economies. Carvalho said millions of jobs were destroyed or impaired after Haiyan tore down or damaged 33 million coconut trees, flooded fields with salt water, and swept away or wrecked 30,000 fishing vessels. Coloma said the hard work of responding to all the humanitarian challenges remained. "We realise that despite its best efforts, government is unable to adequately respond to all the needs of all the affected families and individuals," Coloma said. "We continue to welcome suggestions on how we can improve our response and assistance," he said, adding that reports of corruption in aid distribution would be swiftly dealt with. strs-jvg/sm