Lanao war victims get infra, livelihood projects

ILIGAN CITY (MindaNews/2 July 2) — Nearly two years after Moro rebels swooped down and attacked Kolambugan in Lanao del Norte, Mindanao government officials and development workers turned over and unveiled infrastructure and livelihood projects as part of the rehabilitation and reconstruction package for this war-torn municipality and neighboring areas.

On Aug. 18, 2008, Moro rebels said to be members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) simultaneously attacked the municipalities of Kolambugan and Kauswagan, both in Lanao del Norte. Many civilians and a soldier died, hundreds of residents were displaced as many of their houses were either damaged or burned, government properties were likewise damaged, and women and children held hostage by rebels were traumatized.

Shortly after the assault, peace and development advocates came to intervene for post-conflict recovery, among them the ACT for Peace led by national program director Jesus G. Dureza who visited Kolambugan and neighboring Maigo last week for the turnover ceremonies.

In Kolambugan, Dureza handed down 40 units of core shelters, a barangay health station with medical facilities, a small pharmacy, a play area for children, a “Level 2” water system,

farm inputs and fishing gear, as well as school supplies for kids.

Maigo was likewise a recipient of a similar package, except that the core shelter housing units were only 15.

In a ceremony, the projects were accepted by Gov. Khalid Dimaporo, Kolambugan Mayor Bertrand Lumaque and Maigo Mayor Hernando Granaderos, witnessed by various barangay chairpersons and personnel of non-government organizations in Lanao.

In that occasion, Lumaque also presented to Dureza the accomplished Integrated Rehabilitation Program (IRP), which aimed at “strengthening local capacities of Kolambugan in developing a responsive prevention and rehabilitation mechanism; alleviate conditions by providing emergency food security and livelihood; improve water and health facility; meet psychosocial needs of conflict-affected communities; rebuild social cohesion and enhance community partnership for stakeholders deeply traumatized by conflict.”

The IRP in Kolambugan cost P6.6 million while that in Maigo was P4.17 million, with correspondent counterparts from the municipal governments and non-government organizations operating in the area.

Diosita Andot, program manager of ACT for Peace, said that as of May 2010, they have provided relief goods to 5,651 internally displaced persons (IDPs, also known as “bakwits” in the vernacular) in Lanao del Norte, supplementary feeding to 8,305 children of displaced communities, medicines to 5,869 affected families and psychosocial services and therapy to 12,528 adults and children for trauma healing.

“These were done in partnership with Lanao-based non-government organizations with expertise on post-conflict rehabilitation and reconstruction,” she said.

Andot also reported that they have facilitated the provision of temporary shelters to 1,094 IDPs, construction of 641 core shelters for homeless families, installation of 90 “Level 1” water systems, 14 “Level 2” water systems, and 13 barangay health stations.

She said 27 mini-pharmacies for the barangays have been established and that 30 communities have been supported with integrated health and nutrition program.

Twenty-seven beneficiaries received farm inputs and fishing gears as part of the quick-impact livelihood assistance as well as community enterprise for IDP women in 27 communities.

Andot said 4,400 children have benefitted from the play areas as part of post-conflict therapy and about 30 communities have been undertaking dialogues with peace stakeholders in grassroots-based peacebuilding as part of social healing and reconciliation activities.

On the same occasion, Dureza and Dimaporo inked a partnership agreement for another early recovery and rehabilitation program of the province which will benefit a total of 808 families from barangays Kiasar of Tagoloan town, Gadungan of Baloi, Durianon and Lemoncret of Magsaysay, Mindalano of Salvador and Tambo of Munai.

A briefer noted that under this agreement development workers will endeavor to “restore basic services, livelihood, shelter, governance and security as well as reintegration of displaced population and strengthening of social cohesion.”

The 808 families in the said areas are expecting to avail of 55 core shelters, health stations, day care centers, livelihood development support, and seminars relating to “culture of Peace,” Islamic leadership and governance, United Nations Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement (UNGPID) and disaster risk reduction.

These projects, to be implemented starting this month, will cost almost P12 million, P9 million of which will come from ACT for Peace’s funding. The rest of the needed amount for reconstruction will be shouldered by partner NGOs, municipal and barangay funds, as well as from people’s organizations. (Violeta M. Gloria / MindaNews)