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Australian assistance for Philippines drought



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M ED IA RELEASE MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS ALEXANDER DOWNER

AA67 29 July 1998

EMBARGO: 6PM (AEST) 29 July

AUSTRALIAN ASSISTANCE FOR PHILIPPINES DROUGHT

I am pleased to announce that the Australian Government will provide up to A$ 1 million (24 million pesos) in emergency drought relief assistance to the southern Philippines island of Mindanao.

The assistance will help vulnerable rural communities in the upland areas of southern Mindanao which are experiencing critical food shortages following the recent El Nino event.

Indigenous groups have been particularly affected by a series of crop failures over the past two years as a result of drought and infestations of pests.

Escalating prices due to the economic crises in Asia have also severely reduced the ability of poor remote communities in Mindanao to purchase staple foods.

Australian Government assistance will consist of food aid, agricultural inputs such as seeds and fertiliser and medical supplies to be provided through Australian nonĀ­ government organisations. —

This drought assistance is in addition to the $59.8 million in Australian aid committed to the Philippines this year which is aimed at reducing poverty through targeted activities in health, education and training, water supply, agriculture and governance.

Australian aid is increasingly focussed on Mindanao, which is one of the more disadvantaged areas of the Philippines.

In particular, Australia is an active supporter of the peace process in Mindanao. In addition to the provision of basic household amenities and infrastructure for former Moro National Liberation Front combatants and their families, current Australian development activities in areas covered by the Special Zone of Peace and Development total some $40 million. MANILA

Media contacts: Innes Willox (Minister’s Office - Manila) 0011 63 917 815 1005 Lyn Dunlevy (AusAID) 02 6206 4695

Media releases and speeches are available from AusAID via the Internet, http://www.ausaid.gov.au