MANILA, DECEMBER 24, 2012 - An additional sixty-five (65) villages in 21 conflict-affected towns of Mindanao will have access to funds for livelihood and small-scale infrastructure to help speed up reconstruction and create small businesses and jobs in these war-torn communities.
The assistance is made possible with the recent approval of a US$5.251 million additional grant for the Mindanao Trust Fund (MTF) that is designed to help improve social and economic recovery in these parts of Southern Philippines.
Secretary Teresita Quintos Deles of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) said that the additional financing for the MTF will help the country’s efforts to heal, rehabilitate and develop conflict-affected areas. It will also strengthen the constituency for peace and citizen's participation on the ground, she said.
“We welcome the additional support that adds to the government’s efforts to empower conflict-vulnerable communities in their quest for a peaceful and progressive life. We hope that this mechanism will continue to bridge goodwill and trust not just between the parties on the peace table, but also with the communities on the ground that we serve," added Secretary Deles.
The World Bank and other international development partners established the MTF in 2006 as a mechanism for pooling funds and coordinating support for conflict-affected areas in Mindanao.
So far, the MTF has completed 240 reconstruction and development projects, including classrooms, health stations, access roads, water supply systems, core shelters and community centers in 154 conflict-affected communities in 75 municipalities across Mindanao.
Under the program, residents of these communities choose and implement their own projects that enable them to recover from the conflict and improve their living conditions.
Besides funding projects identified by communities, part of the grant will be channeled through the International Labour Organization to support livelihood activities. It will also provide skills training to help people secure steady employment.
World Bank Country Director Motoo Konishi said the additional financing comes at a critical juncture in the country’s history. The recently signed Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro, he said, underscores the importance of intensifying socio-economic assistance to communities that have suffered from decades-old conflict.
“This additional funding means that while the Government and the MILF flesh out the details of the Framework Agreement on the negotiating table, the program will continue to deliver much needed services to conflict-affected communities,” Mr. Konishi said.
The World Bank is joined by several development partners which support the MTF, including the European Union, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, the United States Agency for International Development, the Australian Agency for International Development, the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the Canadian International Development Agency.
The MTF works through the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA), the development arm of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), whose mandate is to determine, lead and manage relief, rehabilitation and development projects in conflict-affected areas in Mindanao.
“The MTF serves an important confidence-building role in bringing the government and the MILF together on development issues affecting the Bangsamoro,” said Dr. Saffrullah M. Dipatuan, Chairman, Bangsamoro Development Agency. “The additional financing will boost our efforts to build the capacity of the BDA so that the MILF will have a core of technical experts in development on whom to draw following a peace agreement with the government.”
The BDA is supported by Community and Family Services International, the Mindanao Land Foundation and the International Labor Organization.