Japan funds expansion of skills training center in Maguindanao

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/26 February) —  The Japanese government has extended P4 million for the expansion of a skills training center in Maguindanao that caters to Moro women and out-of-school youth (OSY) in conflict-affected areas.

Minister for Economic Affairs Akio Isomata of the Embassy of Japan graced the turn-over of the two-storey building in Barangay Simuay, Sultan Kudarat town recently, an embassy statement said.

“I really hope that this new facility will contribute to the improvement of livelihoods of Bangsamoro women and children and uplift the socio-economic situation in this area,” Isomata said.

Isomata added that the accumulation of these small steps could lead to the realization of peace, stability and development in Mindanao.

The “Project for the Expansion of Skills Training Center for Bangsamoro Women” was funded by Japan’s Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects (GGP). Ittihadun-Nisa’ Foundation, Inc. (INFO) runs the facility.

In 2006, the Embassy of Japan supported INFO, a local NGO, in the construction of the skills training center under GGP.

In the center, several livelihood trainings have been provided for the marginalized sectors of the community including Bangsamoro women and OSY who have been affected by the armed conflicts.

The aim of the trainings is to equip them with new skills such as dressmaking and food processing so that they can have livelihood opportunities.

After the success of the training projects, INFO faced a larger number of women and youth who also wanted to join the activities, thus a need to expand the center, the statement said.

INFO sought the assistance of the Japanese embassy again to construct an additional facility that would cater to an increased number of Bangsamoro women and children.

In this project, a new building including dormitories has been constructed. Necessary equipment for skills trainings, such as sewing machines and food processors, have also been provided.

By having dormitories, people from remote areas can also have opportunities to benefit from the trainings conducted in the center.

Japan believes that this project will not only strengthen friendship between the peoples of Japan and the Philippines, but also contribute to fostering a strategic partnership between the two countries towards the future.

This project has been implemented under the J-BIRD or Japan-Bangsamoro Initiatives for Reconstruction and Development.

The Japanese government, as the top donor of the official development assistance for the Philippines, launched the J-BIRD in December 2006 as part of its commitment to supporting peace and development efforts in Mindanao.

The J-BIRD has assisted construction or rehabilitation of school buildings, health facilities, training centers, and water supply systems. As of early February 2011, 41 projects have been implemented under J-BIRD, amounting to around $3 million.(Bong S. Sarmiento/MindaNews)