Unilever builds Sustainable Living Communities in Yolanda-stricken Leyte
More than 100 days after super typhoon Yolanda struck land, livelihood and permanent shelter issues continue to loom over Leyte as thousands are left jobless and hundreds of families are still living in tents. Addressing these concerns is Unilever Philippines who has raised close to Php80M for relief and rehabilitation and has begun community-building projects to help get the province back on its feet. Part of the initial response of the business was in support of the Diskwento Caravan of the Department of Trade and Industry and in relief support through the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
Now focusing on long-term support for Leyte, Unilever Philippines has rolled out “Sustainable Living Communities”, a program that not only provides immediate shelter in disaster-stricken communities but also a sustainable future through livelihood and skills development training.
Recognizing the need to lay the groundwork for these communities, Unilever partnered with Operation Compassion Philippines, a relief and developmental non-government organization tasked by the government to construct 2,000 temporary shelters in the small coastal town of Mayorga. The ongoing project will benefit more than 7,000 residents.
The shelters will be divided into clusters, with each one having a common kitchen area and shower facility. Unilever will help fund the construction of two clusters, and plans to establish 500 Sustainable Living Communities nationwide by the end of 2014.
Throughout the rebuilding process, members of Operation Compassion Philippines will also stay and live with the people to help them rebuild their homes and come up with a long-term development plan for the holistic transformation of the town’s 16 barangays.
“Signs of the devastation still line the scenery across affected communities, serving as reminders of how much remains to be done. Other signs however – businesses are reopening, children heading back to school, health workers back at work, or water flowing again through community taps – convey a growing, albeit tentative, sense of recovery. As the focus shifts to reconstruction, Unilever is committed in helping the Philippines back on its feet, while addressing poverty and building the resilience of communities in the longer term,” said Unilever Chairman and CEO Rohit Jawa.
This includes the opening of a Super!Store to help bring the economy back to life in these Sustainable Living Communities. These stores serve to empower small-scale entrepreneurs such as sari-sari store owners or mom&pop store managers.
Other key initiatives include training housewives for Unilever’s Canvasser program, launching of sachet recovery drive for waste management, opening of Surf Laundry pocket gardens, and launching of “Wash, Eat, Brush” campaign that will benefit children in the local communities.
The Sustainable Living Community program is just one of the initiatives under the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, a global campaign which aims to help more than a billion people improve their health and wellbeing, reduce the environmental footprint of the company’s products and source 100% of its raw materials sustainably.
In line with USLP, Unilever Philippines is also working towards a fair trade agreement with local farmers through sustainable sourcing of raw materials for Selecta and Knorr. In partnership with UNICEF, World Food Program, Save the Children and Oxfam, Unilever Philippines will also continue to reach out to more people with programs that focus on health, hygiene, sanitation and nutrition.
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