Reconstructing identities: UNDP supports frontline government services

09 Apr 2014

imageUNDP Country Director, Maurice Dewulf, doodles with three-year old Emmelia Renne Salve from Tanuan. She was the first person to receive new identification under an NGO-led documentation initiative. (Photo: Lesley Wright/UNDP)


Sights and sounds of construction abound across the Typhoon Haiyan-affected areas. Rebuilding is well underway since the 8 November storm, but it’s not just buildings and infrastructure that need replaced.


Identities of the Haiyan survivors are also in need of reconstruction.

When the storm ripped buildings apart, precious government documents were inundated. Waterlogged paper wiped out records of people’s births, marriages and deaths, and land titles, permits and small business documents. For people and businesses getting back on their feet, these documents are vital.

Responding to this need is one of the largest collaborative efforts in the typhoon recovery bringing together 14 groups – UN agencies, including UNDP, a local NGO, international NGOs, and government agencies to streamline the support to local governments.

“We will be looking at how we can support the municipal governments to improve the way they store data and how we can build it to be more climate proof and more resilient to disasters,” said Luiza Carvalho, UN Humanitarian Coordinator and UNDP’s Resident Representative. 

During the 7 April launch of a smaller initiative under the Access to Benefits and Claims after Disaster (ABCD) in Palo, Leyte, UNDP joined a consortium comprising UNHCR, Unicef and others who are all working to help governments restore service provisions, among which includes documentation recovery. 

“Without our records, nobody knows we are people; nobody knows we are there,” said Leyte Province Governor Leopoldo Dominico Petilla.


In early 2014, UNDP began helping local governments salvage ruined paperwork at municipal offices through an emergency employment scheme and as the recovery takes shape, UNDP is expanding its support to local governments to include long-term sustainable assistance like building LGU frontline services.

With UNDP support, local governments can restore the public services that have a tremendous impact on the wider recovery. In assisting the local Mayor’s Offices, UNDP will contribute to new businesses opening faster and providing much needed livelihoods; in assisting the engineering departments, UNDP will contribute to families rebuilding their homes safely; and in assisting civil registrar’s offices, UNDP will contribute to swift and sound legal decrees.

ruined government building
Municipal buildings like this one in Tolosa, Leyte, were destroyed ruining thousands of government documentation like permits and certificates. (Photo: Lesley Wright/UNDP)

Through the collaborative approach, UNDP and other actors were able to map out where they providing what support, which maximized the target area. This approach is something of which the national government is taking note.

“If we can have more of this, the rehabilitation and reconstruction of all Yolanda areas would be faster, more efficient and more effective,” said Secretary Corazón Solíman, head of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.