Conflict-affected communities in Mindanao are among the poorest in the country, suffering from decades of 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 (rido), and quasi-ideological criminal banditry—have created severe economic dislocation and displacement of people. In 2000 and 2008, for instance, conflicts led to an estimated 900,000 internally displaced persons. Armed conflict and poverty are inextricably linked. The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, for example, is one the most heavily conflict-affected regions in the country, with the poverty incidence reaching 38.1 percent in 2009, higher than the poverty incidence in the entire country at 26.5 percent for the same year.
The MTF provides financing to programs and projects that empower communities and other partners in Mindanao to recover from conflict. The fund also promotes participatory and effective governance where members of the community identify and carry out projects that will improve conditions in their areas. The MTF complements other programs and projects (e.g. the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao –ARMM-- Social Fund) aimed at promoting peace and development in Mindanao.
The unique feature of the program is that it works through the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA), the development arm of the Moro Islamic Liberation Frontwhich is in peace talks with the Government of the Philippines. Based on an agreement between the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in 2001, the BDA is tasked to determine, lead, and manage relief, rehabilitation and development projects in the conflict-affected areas of Mindanao. Thus, the program plays an important confidence-building role in bringing the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front together on development issues. The program also provides skills and management training to the BDA so that the Moro Islamic Liberation Front will have a core of technical experts in development.
Results as of January 23, 2013:
• By the end of January 2013, a total of 240 reconstruction and development projects have been successfully completed (for example, classrooms, health stations, access roads, water supply systems, core shelters, and community centers) and turned over to the 154 targeted conflict-affected communities in 75 municipalities all over Mindanao.
• From 2005 to 2013, approximately 300,000 beneficiaries, including women from 154 communities, have been trained and empowered to plan, prepare, construct, operate and maintain their priority development projects.
• In 2011 alone, the project delivered services to over 31,000 households, including water supply, livelihood and small-scale infrastructure.
• Since its establishment, and mainly through MTF’s assistance, the BDA has produced a critical mass of trained and productive leaders working towards the achievement of its vision of an “enlightened, progressive, self-sustaining and healthy Bangsamoro community living in harmony, dignity, security and peace.”