WB set to begin MRDP Phase 2

Joachim von Amsberg, World Bank country director, said the program will focus on setting mechanisms that will promote participation, transparency and accountability among beneficiaries in at least 225 municipalities in Mindanao that would be covered by the program. 

"MRDP2 encompasses strong approaches related to community-driven development which will help promote the active and continued participation of indigenous peoples and other disadvantaged groups in the development process," he said in a statement.

The World Bank's board of directors approved late last month a loan package worth US$83.752 million for the government to jumpstart the implementation of MRDP2.

The program, which is part of a four-phase Adaptable Program Loan (APL), is aimed at improving livelihood opportunities and ensuring food security in more than half of the 422 municipalities in 27 provinces of Mindanao.

Amsberg said MRDP2, which will be managed by the Department of Agriculture, will also pilot test a performance-based grant scheme for local government units (LGUs) covered by the program.

He said MRDP2 will also provide additional grants to LGUs for local or devolved development infrastructure projects.

Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap said the implementation of MRDP2 complements the government's efforts to promote poverty reduction and rural growth in Mindanao.

"We hope that with this project, Mindanawons will experience greater economic and integration opportunities, particularly to indigenous communities and other disadvantaged groups," Yap said.

All four provinces in the area would be covered by MRDP2. Southwestern Mindanao comprises South and North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Sarangani.

Sultan Kudarat and Cotabato, were among the pilot provinces covered by the program during its initial phase. MRDP2 will cover the 10 municipalities of South Cotabato and seven in Sarangani.

The first phase of MRDP, which was completed in December 2004, covered 32 towns in five provinces in Mindanao.

"It brought about the active engagement of LGUs and rural communities in Mindanao towards a common agricultural development agenda and demonstrated a credible and doable approach for developing decentralized models of agriculture sector services for the entire country, not just Mindanao," the World Bank statement noted.

On its third phase (MRDP3), it said the project will continue to provide support for all LGUs covered by phase 2, focusing on deepening the program by ensuring that all eligible municipalities are fully engaged.

The fourth phase (MRDP4) will focus on "reinforcing the key thrusts, underpinning the overall program and in securing both program and institutional sustainability of the development initiatives undertaken in support of increasing agricultural production and alleviating rural poverty."