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DSWD, UN to join hands in ending hunger, strengthening disaster preparedness

DSWD and United Nations
Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Rex Gatchalian (center) meets the delegation of the United Nations (UN) to reaffirm existing ties and establish new partnerships in mitigating hunger in the country.

From left to right: DSWD Undersecretary for General Administration and Support Services Group Antonio C. Crisanto Jr.; Assistant Secretary for Office of the Secretary Concerns Irene B. Dumlao; Undersecretary for Policy and Plans Group Atty. Adonis P. Sulit; Undersecretary for Special Concerns Vilma B. Cabrera; UN Development Program Coordination Officer Eden Lumilan; UN World Food Programme Deputy Country Director Dipayan Bhattacharyya; DSWD Secretary Rex Gatchalian; UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Gustavo Gonzales; Development Coordination Officer - Regional Director for Asia Pacific David Mclachlan-Karr; UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Representative in the Philippines Lionel Dabbadie; Resident Coordinator Officer - Economist John Alikpala;, Anticipatory Action Coordinator - United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN-OCHA) Ms. Agnes Palacio; and FAO Assistant Representative Tamara Duran.

Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Rex Gatchalian met with United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Gustavo Gonzales, Development Coordination Office (DCO) Regional Director for Asia Pacific David Mclachlan-Karr, and the delegates of the United Nations to reaffirm their existing ties and establish new partnerships to end hunger in the Philippines, on Friday, February 17, at the DSWD Central Office.

During the meeting, Secretary Gatchalian laid out to the UN representatives his thrust and priorities that include ending hunger in the country and strengthening the disaster response mechanisms of the Department.

The Secretary added that one of his plans to mitigate hunger and achieve food security is the implementation of digital food stamps that can be used by its recipients to buy goods in grocery stores and supermarkets. With the digital food stamps, the Secretary added that it will also become beneficial to the rural farmers as he plans to connect them and their crops to the local markets.

On his plan to strengthen the disaster response mechanism of the Department, Secretary Gatchalian shared his priority to add warehouses and establish hubs and spokes in strategic locations in the country to ensure immediate assistance to the affected individuals, especially those residing in geographically-isolated and disadvantaged areas (GIDA).

In response, the UN delegation presented to the Secretary that they are currently pilot-testing the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) for Anticipatory Action (AA) for predictable hazards in the Bicol Region and Eastern Visayas. Under the CERF AA pilot, beneficiaries will be provided with top-up cash transfers three days before the predicted landfall of a typhoon.

Meanwhile, Mr. Gustavo Gonzalez assured the Secretary that the United Nations is willing to provide the necessary technical assistance, as well as the resources needed to successfully implement this proposal.

Mr. Gonzalez also mentioned that one of the UN’s top priorities is to provide assistance to the people of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), which the Secretary supported.

Secretary Gatchalian, likewise, assured the UN delegation that the DSWD will include representatives from BARMM in the team that will be created by the Department to lead the formulation of the proposal, to be presented to the UN.

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