MANILA, MAY 25, 2010—The World Bank has approved an additional US$30 million to the Philippine Government for the ARMM Social Fund Project (ASFP), an initiative to reduce poverty and support peace initiatives in conflict-affected areas in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
Specifically, the additional financing aims to enhance access to social and economic infrastructure and livelihood opportunities, as well as improve local governance and institutional capacity in ARMM, focusing on improved transparency and accountability in the allocation and management of public resources by the ARMM Regional Government, Local Government Units, and participating communities.
Finance Secretary Margarito Teves welcomed the approval of the additional financing, stressing that the project highlights the Government’s, as well as the development partners’ commitment, to help address poverty and conflict in the Southern Philippines.
“ARMM is one of the poorest regions in the Philippines. Its deeply-rooted poverty situation aggravated by decades of unresolved conflict and weak governance requires continuous support and technical assistance by national, regional, and local government agencies, the private sector, and the donor community,” said Secretary Teves.
The additional financing will have two major components, namely:
- Community Development Assistance (CDA) which will provide opportunities to community groups for increased participation in developing, implementing, and managing community projects that addresses their priority socio-economic needs; and
- Institutional Strengthening and Governance (ISG) which will support information, education, and capacity-building activities on good governance, as well as community-driven development approaches.
The original financing of 33.6 million US Dollars from the World Bank and 2.47 billion Japanese Yen from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has assisted 859 of the 2,469 barangays (villages) of ARMM. Of these barangays, 655 were assisted under the World Bank financing. With the additional financing, the project has been extended to May 31, 2013.
“The additional financing, with the help of community-driven development approaches, aims to scale up the provision of basic services to poor communities and increase trust among community members and between communities in conflict-affected areas in Mindanao,” said World Bank Country Director Bert Hofman.
“The Bank is supporting this initiative because we believe it could significantly contribute to peace, stability, and development in Mindanao,” he added, noting that community involvement and strong financial safeguards allow the project to operate in the challenging environment in ARMM. Assistance to areas where there has been recent issues of governance will be conditional upon assessment that resources can be put to effective use there.
ASFP is intended to improve access to social and economic infrastructure and services by the poor and conflict-affected poor communities; provide capacity-building for women, youth and other community groups; increase employment opportunities and household incomes; strengthen social cohesion and partnerships between and within communities in ARMM; and improve local governance and institutional capacities for implementation in ARMM. The additional financing will benefit over 500 additional barangays in five provinces and one city in ARMM.
So far, ASFP has achieved all its intended outcomes. Some 670 Peoples Organizations (POs) have been formed and trained to manage, procure, implement, and maintain community subprojects. Strong community ownership of subprojects and the skills learned by the community in operation and maintenance helps to ensure its sustainability.
Martin Usman, an elder in Barangay Borongotan, Upi, Maguindanao, expressed the common sentiments of ARMM communities for ASFP additional financing: “I am old and the only living elder in this community. This is the first time that I have felt the assistance from the Government. This project must continue as it helps us think of good things for the community.”
The Project has overshot its physical targets by over 100 percent with about 1,700 community subprojects across 655 barangays, providing basic services to an estimated 674,050 persons. Thirteen key regional infrastructure subprojects have been completed and 43 madaris (Arabic schools) have received accreditation from the Department of Education, paving the way for sustained educational opportunities in poor communities across the region.