Sunday, March 23, 2014

Solar power pushed in Yolanda homes

By Rainier Allan Ronda

MANILA, Philippines - A Filipino inventor sees solar energy as the continued source of electricity in disaster-hit areas, especially in bunkhouses and permanent shelters.
In an interview with The STAR, inventor Francisco Pagayon, Filipino Inventors Society Producers Cooperative (FISPC) president, said a steady electricity supply can ensure that people in disaster-hit communities can stay connected to other places through their cell phones or the Internet.
“Electricity is very important in the home and in the barangays in this high-tech world we live in where everybody wants to charge their cell phones, and keep up with what’s happening in the rest of the country and in the outside world, especially with our millions of OFWs (overseas Filipino workers),” he said.
The government must encourage Filipino inventors to come up with affordable and smart solutions to ensure that communities in disaster-hit areas can continue to enjoy electricity to engage in activities at night, and keep their communities safe and well lighted, he added.
Pagayon said he had developed a solar power home electricity kit using solar panels to store electricity to allow a household to light up, power a small television, and charge cell phones and laptop computers.
“This is a smart solution for homes in communities that have constant blackouts or are in disaster-hit areas where power supply has not yet been restored,” he said.The Multi-Purpose Solar Power Lighting System kit costs P30,000 a set. It can store 50 watts to power six to eight LED light bulbs, 26 ampere battery, and a multi-function accessory case with an octopus power socket that can power an electric fan of up to 15 watts of power capacity, and charge cell phones and tablet computers.
Pagayon has opened a showroom at the Delta building at the corner of Quezon Avenue and West Avenue in Quezon City.
He also developed the Probaton (Police Reconnaissance Operation Baton) that policemen and barangay tanods nationwide are using.
P73.1 million for Eastern Visayas
A P73.1-million fund has been released for an expanded, second wave of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)’s cash-for-work (CFW) program in Typhoon Yolanda-devastated Eastern Visayas.
The P73.1 million will cover nine local governments in the region to put to work thousands of Yolanda survivors for the recovery and rehabilitation of their communities.
In a phone interview with The STAR, Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman said the second wave of CFW in the region will involve different jobs for the beneficiaries.
“It’s already CFW to reconstruct livelihood assets,” she said.
In the first wave of CFW from Nov. 9 to Feb. 10, the DSWD released some P5.1 million for the CFW in Eastern Visayas covering 7,734 beneficiaries.
Their work involved clearing debris and clean up. Some 16,234 people availed of the first wave of CFW. The beneficiaries worked mostly in the different relief hubs, seaports and at the airport assisting in the hauling of goods.
Beginning this month, the expanded CFW seeks to benefit more than 37,000 people from Barugo, Burauen, Dulag, San Isidro, Sta. Fe, Tabontabon and Tanauan in Leyte; Guiuan in Eastern Samar; and Basey and Hinabangan in Western Samar.
Local governments will identify priority activities like clearing and cleaning roads of debris, rehabilitation of farm-to-market roads, cleaning of coastal areas, digging and dredging of canals, rehabilitation of basic agricultural infrastructure, and communal gardening.
Beneficiaries will work for 15 days at P260 per day.
Delivery of aid to farmers stalled
A program to deliver emergency farm equipment to small-scale coconut farmers in the Visayas regions affected by typhoon Yolanda has been stalled at the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) since January.
The P720-million emergency procurement program, which includes the purchase of trucks, tractors to be used in clearing coconut farmlands in of fallen trees and typhoon debris in Eastern Visayas, was suspended by the Department of Agrarian Reforms (DAR) after questions were raised about the specification requirements for heavy-duty farm tractors.
As millions of fallen coconut trees beginning to rot and breed pests, the failure to commence with clearing operations has put the livelihood of small-scale coconut farmers from Regions 6, 7 and 8 under serious threat, international aid organization Oxfam reported recently.
“Less than one percent of the total 295,191 hectares of coconut farmlands have been cleared of debris because of the lack of proper equipment and guidelines for the processing of fallen trees into lumber” Golda Hilario, representative of the international aid organization Oxfam said.
Oxfam along with the Fair Trade Alliance (FTA) of former Sen. Wigberto Tañada have been calling on the government to expedite the delivery aid to coconut farmers amid unconfirmed reports that an official has been exerting pressure on the Department of Budget and Management Procurement Service (DBM-PS) to lower the horsepower requirements for tractors to favor suppliers of undersized machines.
“The recovery and rehabilitation program cannot begin until the task of clearing the farms of fallen trees and typhoon debris is accomplished,” Tañada said.
In a Jan. 13 memorandum, DAR requested the DBM-PS “to suspend the procurement in view of complaints.”
Last week, responding to calls to expedite the delivery of the farm equipment, DAR head executive assistant Justin Vincent La Chica sent a letter to various organizations saying the procurement program remains suspended pending a review of the the complaint filed by a group of farm equipment suppliers after the conduct of a DBM-supervised public auction on Jan. 3.
“The department fully understands the plight of our countrymen in Eastern Visayas and also understand the need for these tractors/farm equipment to be delivered, the soonest possible time,” the DAR letter read.
Yolanda victims given floorings
Yolanda victims in Tacloban City comprising 1,000 families from three barangays were given plywood floorings while a definite relocation site for them is being identified.
These families are temporarily staying in 738 tents.
Alicia Murphy, Urban Poor Associates (UPA) field director, said they gave each family four pieces of marine plywood of an inch thick and with a length of 4x8 feet for flooring in their temporary homes.
“We first introduced the plywood flooring for about three families,” she said.
“We saw that the children can eat, play and sleep on the plywood and this kept them dry. We believe that this is the solution now that we could give to the people while they wait for final relocation. – With Rhodina Villanueva, Danny Dangcalan

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