TACLOBAN CITY – The United States government is eyeing a $142.5 million budget to rebuild communities pounded by super typhoon Yolanda last year, concentrating on improving education, health services and livelihood. US Agency for International Development (USAID) Acting Assistant Administrator for Asia Denise Rollins said the US government is renewing its commitment to help central Philippines build back better, after the devastating typhoon. “Our government is committed to help restore normalcy in the lives of the affected families. We will continue our work with our local partners to help provinces build back better, to be more resilient to future disasters, and ultimately work towards a more stable, prosperous nation that can achieve broad-based and inclusive growth,” Rollins said in her visit here last week. For the education sector, USAID will build 165 climate-resilient classrooms and provide teaching kits in the Visayas. At least 10 health facilities will be reconstructed, including the provision of equipment and supplies. Among the sites are Tacloban City, Tabon-tabon and Burauen towns, all in Leyte. The US government is also introducing climate-adaptive technologies to farmers and fisherfolks by training 3,000 farmers on short term food production, crop diversification study, provide tools to 5,000 fishermen on high value marine products production. “We will construct 30 critical infrastructures supporting agriculture and fishing activities. This includes public markets, boat landings, trading centers, warehouses and grain dryers,” Rollins said. Approximately 1,000 sari-sari stores will be constructed and rehabilitated by the USAID and American multinational giants, Coca-Cola and Procter & Gamble. The partnership will provide inventory and train store owners on basic store management. This initiative is expected to help restore livelihoods and help stabilize the supply and prices of basic consumer goods in typhoon-devastated communities, Rollins said. Asked when all these rebuilding projects will be completed, Rollins said: “It’s gonna take time because construction firms that cannot work on too many at one time. It’s a long-term effort, but we’re here to stay.” The US government will also provide technical assistance to the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery (OPARR) in the coordination of recovery efforts. As of April, US has already provided $90.86 million grant for post-Yolanda response. Of the amount, $35 million was from USAID Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), $34.5 million from US Department of Defense, $20.15 million from USAID Office of Food for Peace, and $1.20 million from USAID Philippines. In a USAID report, of the $90.86 million provided by the US government since the typhoon battered the region, 31% have been used for logistics and relief commodities; 28% for shelter and settlements; 23% for water, sanitation and hygiene; 10% for economic recovery and market system, 6% for protection; 1% for risk management policy and practice, and 1% for humanitarian coordination and information management. (SARWELL Q.MENIANO)