Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Typhoon cleanup offers economic lifeline in the Philippines

Chun Han Wong in the Wall Street Journal: On a side street just off this city's eastern coastline, dozens of residents scurried in and out of a sprawling field of debris on Tuesday, working to remove rubble left behind by the deadliest typhoon ever to hit the Philippines.

The task before them, and their city, appeared herculean. Rubble here is piled 3 to 4 feet high, and complicated by drooping power cables and jagged pieces of smashed wood and metal. It is a scene still common across Tacloban more than two weeks after Typhoon Haiyan ripped through the city and its neighboring districts.

The tons of putrefying waste that remain, despite a concerted cleanup effort by state agencies, pose an infrastructural and public-health challenge for a city that just started shifting gears from disaster relief to reconstruction. But the cleanup, officials and aid workers say, also offers an opportunity to jump-start the city's typhoon-ravaged economy and heal wounds in this tightknit community.

"In addition to contributing to the humanitarian effort, the debris removal is also a critical component of economic recovery," said Haoliang Xu, a senior United Nations official who leads the U.N. Development Program's Asian Pacific operations.

A temporary jobs program will pay up to 200,000 people to clear rubble in Tacloban and its neighboring municipalities, injecting cash into the local economy and helping "communities to recover their lives and livelihoods," Mr. Xu said....

Debris in the streets of Tacloban, November 14, shot by Trocaire, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

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