The Mindanao Trust Fund: Supporting Reconstruction and Development in Conflict-affected areas in Mindanao

April 10, 2013


Multi-donor fund assists conflict-affected communities in Mindanao, the Philippines.

As of September 2016, over half a million people (51 percent of whom are women) in 225 villages across Mindanao have benefited from 379 community infrastructure and livelihood subprojects (access roads, water systems, community centers and pre- and post-harvest facilities) and support for community-enterprise development.


Conflict-affected communities in Mindanao are among the poorest in the Philippines, suffering from poor infrastructure and lack of basic services (including education and health), weak local governance, and minimal private sector investment. The main cause of underdevelopment has been insecurity.  Frequent armed clashes, driven by multiple and inter-related forms of conflict—insurgent groups, clan disputes, and quasi-ideological criminal banditry—have created severe economic dislocation and displacement of people. Armed conflict and poverty are inextricably linked. The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), one of the most heavily conflict-affected regions, has poverty incidence of 52.9 percent, almost double the national average. Based on the peace deal with the Philippine government in 2012, the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) is expected to transition into a social and political movement.  One of the key challenges for a successful transition is to help the MILF to build skills within its ranks on development planning, budgeting and public administration.


The MTF works to enhance access to services and economic opportunities and build social cohesion while enhancing the capacity of local institutions in conflict-affected areas.  It supports the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA), the development arm of the MILF.  Based on a 2001 agreement between the Government of the Philippines and the MILF, the BDA is tasked to determine, lead, and manage relief, rehabilitation and development projects in the conflict-affected areas. 

The program helps the BDA to deliver community development and income-generating subprojects in communities. This enhances access to basic services such as clean water, access roads, farming equipment and community centers. BDA also works to strengthen community enterprises for employment and income-generation.  The community-based approach brings people from different groups – Muslims, Christians and indigenous peoples – together for the common good, building social cohesion and trust.  Over time the program has expanded beyond community development to assist the BDA to gain skills in development planning.


As of September 2016:

·       Half a million people (51% of whom are women) in 225 villages have benefitted from 379 completed subprojects [financed by the MTF].  The sub-projects have included water systems, community centers, sanitation facilities, access roads, post-harvest facilities, farming and fishing equipment. Eighty-six percent of the beneficiaries say that the project reflected their needs.

·       The subprojects have reduced travel time to market, increased agricultural productivity, reduced post-harvest costs and increased access to basic services such as clean water. Beneficiaries of income-generating subprojects report increased incomes of 10-20%.

·       The economic rate of return for subprojects ranges between 3% and over 300%.

·       42 community enterprises in 11 villages have been trained in business development to generate sustainable employment and income.  

·       Financial and technical assistance for the Project Management Team of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front for the joint government-MILF “Sajahatra Bangsamoro” program helped to deliver health, education and livelihood benefits to 50,000 people, including health insurance, study grants, technical training fellowships and support for schools and health clinics.

·       The Bangsamoro Development Agency has evolved from a small group of volunteers with no development experience to a leading development agency in Mindanao, with 300 staff across seven regional management offices.  BDA now cooperates with multiple national and international partners, including JICA, WFP and UNICEF. 

·       Bangsamoro Development Plan: the MTF provided technical assistance to help the BDA formulate the first comprehensive economic development blueprint prepared by a non-state armed group.


" The Bangsamoro Development Agency held a consultation with us in our village, to ask the community about our needs. We identified water as the most important to us because even without food, with water one can survive. We decided as a community that we wanted to build a water system. We used to walk more than 1 or 2 kilometers to fetch water, carrying big containers. Today the water system is a big help to us. It’s near our homes and we use it for cooking, for bathing, for watering our plants and as Muslims, to wash ourselves for prayer. "

Elmer Donaire

farmer and Barangay Chairman -Tarragona, Davao Oriental


An official of the Bangsamoro Development Agency checks the water quality of a well before turning over the project to the community.

Photo: Minland

Bank Group Contribution

The Mindanao Trust Fund (MTF) enables development agencies to pool resources and coordinate support for conflict-affected areas in Mindanao. The MTF is administered by the World Bank, which contributed US$1.5 million out of a total of US$28.88 million.

The Bank’s development partners have made the following contributions: European Union (US$17.66 million), Sweden (US$4.29 million), Australia (US$2.89 million), Canada (US$1.6 million), the United States (US$0.75M) and New Zealand (US$0.2 million).


Besides the BDA, other partners in the project are: (i) Community and Family Services International (CFSI), a humanitarian organization that has been involved in reconstruction and development work in conflict-affected areas in Mindanao since 2000; (ii) the Mindanao Land Foundation (MinLand), a nongovernmental organization that has been working for social cohesion building in conflict-affected communities in Mindanao since 2001; and (iii) the International Labour Organization (ILO).  

CSFI, MinLand and the ILO operate as a financial intermediary for the program and source of technical assistance to BDA to ensure smooth operations and efficient fund use.

The MTF is governed by a Steering Committee co-chaired by  the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process.  The BDA also works with local government units (LGUs) in project sites and has signed Memorandums of Agreement with 79 LGUs to promote cooperation and support for the program.

Moving Forward

Project sustainability depends mostly on the skills development within the BDA.  It is expected that BDA personnel will transition to key roles in the proposed Bangsamoro Transition Authority to be established pursuant to the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro.

The BDA is gaining credibility as a development agency.  In its initial five years, the BDA was solely reliant on MTF financing.  It is now cooperating with more than ten international organizations, drawing on organizational policies and capacity established through the MTF. 

People’s organizations and community enterprises established in 225 villages have also been strengthened to be able to maintain community infrastructure and operate sustainable community enterprises for long-term income generation at the community level.

Last Updated: Sep 26, 2016

People have been trained and empowered to plan, prepare, construct, operate and maintain their priority development projects.