JICA completes new GIS database for Bangsamoro

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/11 October)–The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has recently completed an updated Geographic Information Systems (GIS) database for the envisioned Bangsamoro region in Mindanao.

Noriaki Niwa, JICA country chief representative, said they have turned over the more detailed Bangsamoro GIS database to the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA), the development arm of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

“With a more detailed geographic information, we aim to assist Bangsamoro development planners and leaders in implementing strategic and balanced peace and development initiatives in Mindanao,” Niwa said in a statement.

The new GIS database was derived from the data sets produced by the JICA project on Topographic Mapping for Peace and Development in Mindanao.

GIS database refers to geographically referenced data that utilizes software to analyze specific information, and is being used by advanced countries in decision-making and in analyzing quantifiable data.

In the case of the Bangsamoro GIS database, information such as socio-economic data, transportation, and road networks, as well as land conditions, were analyzed and updated.

The GIS database was updated with a standard scale of 1:50,000, which means that they are more detailed than the 1:200,000 scale maps in Mindanao in the 1960s.

JICA also provided the BDA staff with capacity building support in using the GIS system. It noted that the GIS would be useful in the spatial analysis work for the forthcoming Bangsamoro Development Forum in November this year.

Dr Saffrullah Dipatuan, BDA chair, thanked JICA for the assistance, saying that the GIS will help them in various peace and development projects for Mindanao’s conflict-affected areas, as well as in promoting inclusive growth in the region.

Last year, as part of Japan’s assistance to peace and development, JICA, together with the National Mapping and Resources Information Authority and the Mindanao Development Authority, updated the 50-year old Mindanao topographic maps.

Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe presented the map to President Benigno S. Aquino III during the former’s visit to Manila.

The establishment of the Bangsamoro region is the key feature of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), the final peace deal between the government and the MILF.

The Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), the charter that would govern the Bangsamoro, has been submitted by the Office of the President as a key legislative measure to Congress.

Once approved by Congress and ratified by the constituents in the proposed territory, the Bangsamoro government will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

JICA has been supporting peace and development initiatives in Mindanao with 707 community development and 32 infrastructure sub-projects within the ARMM. (MindaNews)