.5M people benefit from multi-donor program for conflict-torn areas in Mindanao

COTABATO CITY (MindaNews/27 May) — Some 500,000 people in 214 conflict-affected villages in Mindanao have been reached by a multi-donor program in support to the peace process since 2006.

The program was in response to the request of the Philippine government in 2002 to organize a Mindanao trust fund to support the peace process.

Since the launch in 2006, the fund has provided P1.3 billion for projects like roads, water supply systems, sanitation facilities and livelihoods for farmers, according to Matthew Stephens, the World Bank-Mindanao Trust Fund program manager, said Tuesday.

“These projects are what the people wanted and suggested to achieve peace in the community,” Stephens said.
The program has reached at least 500,000 people in 214 villages in 75 municipalities in 12 provinces, he added.

Perlita Laogan, of barangay Romangaob in South Upi, Maguidanao, said she is among those who have benefited from the project through a post-harvest facility that enables them to dry their crops faster.

She recalled that before they only had tarpaulins on which to dry their corn and palay.

“But now it’s far different. We save a lot of money and time waiting for our products to be sold,” she said.

In Sitio Tuka, Barangay Ganta, Kabuntalan, Maguindanao, the projects included a trading center and 10 public toilets built in different areas.

Rahima Samba said they used the Pulangi River as their huge “toilet”, a practice that endangered the residents especially the children.

She said the toilets have also helped the residents observe proper hygiene and sanitation.

The MTF provided capacity-building support to the Bangsamoro Development Authority, which aimed to produce a Bangsamoro Development Plan, a comprehensive economic blueprint for the proposed Bangsamoro territory.

The MTF pools money from the European Union, the governments of Sweden, Australia, US, Canada and New Zealand and the World Bank. (Ferdinandh B. Cabrera/MindaNews)