MANILA, FEBRUARY 27, 2012—Scaling up community-driven development and improving local governance will help strengthen the prospects for peace and development in Mindanao, according to the new World Bank Country Director Motoo Konishi, following his visit to the island recently.
Assuming his post as the new Country Director for the Philippines this month, Mr. Konishi visited several conflict-affected areas in Mindanao recently to discuss with various stakeholders—including government officials, civil society groups, project implementers and beneficiaries— the progress of the implementation of several government projects supported by the World Bank.
“In the municipalities of Datu Odin Sinsuat and Parang in Maguindanao, I have seen how communities –empowered and working together –were able to address common problems like the lack of drinking water, post-harvest facilities, and class rooms for their children,” said Mr. Konishi. “Their experiences in working collectively to bring about improvements in their lives and their communities are inspiring and should serve as good models for scaling up and accelerating the development impact of community-driven development (CDD) programs in the country.”
Datu Odin Sinsuat and Parang, and several other municipalities in Maguindanao and Cotabato are hosts to several World Bank-supported projects, including the ARMM Social Fund (ASF), Mindanao Trust Fund (MTF) and the Mindanao Rural Development Project (MRDP) using the CDD approach.
Funded by a US$30 million financing from the World Bank, the ASF aims to reduce poverty and support mechanisms for the promotion of a peaceful and safe environment in conflict-affected areas in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Region while the MTF is a mechanism for development partners, including Australia, the European Union and United States, among others, to pool resources and coordinate support for affected communities all over the island.
Operating on the principles of local empowerment and participatory governance, CDD aims to enhance local communities’ capacity to plan, design and implement projects that address poverty, thereby giving them control over decisions and investment resources.
On October 28, 2011, World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick appointed Mr. Konishi as the new Country Director for the World Bank in the Philippines. A Japanese national, Mr. Konishi was formerly the Country Director for five Central Asian countries, based at the World Bank office in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
Mr. Konishi’s visit to Mindanao is his first official trip to project areas outside Metro Manila. Together with WB staff, he visited several conflict-affected areas of Maguindanao and Cotabato and met with private business groups in Davao City.
“In Libungan, North Cotabato, beneficiaries of MRDP2 [Mindanao Rural Development Project Phase 2] have consolidated the various people’s organizations in their community and expanded and diversified their business from goat and cattle breeding to the production of feeds, rice, and providing credit to members of their community,” said Mr. Konishi. “People’s active participation in the implementation of development project really pays.”
Using the CDD approach, MRDP2 seeks to improve rural incomes and achieve food security through agro-fishery infrastructure, livelihood enterprise, and natural resources management projects. It is also the platform used by the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the participating local government units (LGUs) to operationalize the Local Government Code that decentralized the delivery of agriculture and fishery services and investments from the national government to the LGUs.
MRDP2 is currently implementing close to 500 hundred rural infrastructure projects, amounting to Php4.8 billion. These are mostly farm-to-market roads, bridges, livelihood and communal irrigation projects.
Mr. Konishi said his interactions with various sectors in Cotabato, Maguindanao and Davao City have strengthened his belief in Mindanao’s enormous potential for achieving durable peace and development.
“I was told that Mindanao has been stymied by conflict in some areas, weak governance, and limited economic integration with the rest of the country,” said Mr. Konishi. “Nevertheless, experiences with implementing community driven-development projects on the ground have shown that people themselves could change their lives for the better.”
He said that when people are empowered to choose, design, and implement their own projects, they tend to get the best results. “Given appropriate capacity and financial support, poor people can effectively determine community priorities and address pressing local challenges by working in partnership with local governments and other supportive institutions,” Mr. Konishi said.
“In my first 100 days, I want to visit as many towns and barangays as possible beyond Manila to learn more about the country and the challenges it is facing,” said Mr. Konishi. “I want to listen to the voices from the different sectors and engage them in a conversation on how best we could support initiatives that benefit a broader segment of the Philippine society.”
Mr. Konishi joined the World Bank in 1981 and has extensive experience in supporting innovative infrastructure projects including public-private partnerships (PPP) in transport and water management. Prior to the country directorship for Central Asia, he has served as the Sector Manager for the World Bank’s water supply, sanitation and transport units in the Europe and Central Asia Region, overseeing the infrastructure, energy, water, environment and rural development sectors.
Mr. Konishi replaced Mr. Bert Hofman who now serves as the Chief Economist for the East Asia and the Pacific Region and the Director of the World Bank’s Singapore office.