Philippines: Development Partners Renew Commitment to Peace and Progress in Mindanao

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Mindanao Trust Fund-Reconstruction and Development Project cites gains in confidence-building for conflict-affected areas

DAVAO CITY, APRIL 18, 2017 – Development partners reaffirmed commitment to helping the Philippines achieve long-lasting peace and progress in Mindanao as the long-running Mindanao Trust Fund-Reconstruction and Development Project (MTF-RDP) supporting peace and development in Mindanao closed today.

“The European Union has been with the Mindanao Trust Fund since 2006, because we believe peace is fundamental for economic development,” said Ambassador Franz Jessen, Head of Delegation to the European Union during the MTF closing ceremony held at the SMX Convention Center in Davao City. “The European Union will continue to support programs such as these to help bring lasting peace and development in Mindanao.”

Administered by the World Bank, the MTF is a multi-donor grant facility established to consolidate international development assistance for the socioeconomic recovery of conflict-affected communities in Mindanao. Since 2006, the EU, Sweden, Australia, Canada, the United States, New Zealand, and the World Bank have provided PhP1.4 billion ($28.9 million) to the program. The EU is the largest contributor, having provided Php 1.17 billion ($22 million).

“The Mindanao Trust Fund has helped a lot to improve the access of Bangsamoro communities to basic services such as clean water, roads, farming equipment and community centers,” said Secretary Jesus G. Dureza, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process. “More importantly, as a partnership between the government and the MILF, it has built confidence and social cohesion at the community level, which is an important factor in sustaining the momentum of peace and development in Mindanao.”

The MTF has funded programs and projects that promote economic opportunity, provide access to basic services, and build greater understanding and cooperation among community members in conflict-affected areas.

In 11 years, the MTF has completed 573 infrastructure, livelihood and functional literacy projects in 315 conflict-affected communities across 75 municipalities in Mindanao, reaching nearly 650,000 beneficiaries, more than half of whom are women. These projects have provided hundreds of thousands of people with access to clean water, roads, post-harvest facilities, and farming and fishing equipment.

World Bank Country Director Mara Warwick stressed the World Bank Group’s strong commitment to continue to support Mindanao. “We are planning new World Bank supported programs for Mindanao to sustain efforts toward attaining peace and development, generating jobs, building strong institutions, and supporting social cohesion on the ground. So much needs to be done to address poverty and vulnerability in the Bangsamoro and Mindanao in general.”

Poverty incidence in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao – based on 2015 data – is 48.2 percent, in sharp contrast to the national poverty rate of 16.5 percent.

Al-Haj Murad Ebrahim, Chairperson of the Central Committee of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front said the peace process is about improving the lives of people. “This is why we are thankful to the Philippine government and the international community for working with the MILF through programs like the Mindanao Trust Fund to make people in conflict-affected areas feel that the peace process is moving,” he said.

The main partner of the MTF is the Bangsamoro Development Agency, MILF’s development arm, with technical support from Community and Family Services International, the Mindanao Land Foundation, and the International Labour Organization.

The MTF is the first ever donor-funded program in the world that worked directly with a revolutionary group before a peace agreement is signed. It has provided financial and technical support to the BDA to formulate the Bangsamoro Development Plan, a comprehensive development road map for the proposed Bangsamoro region.

Considered the first ever comprehensive development roadmap written by a revolutionary group, the plan recommends programs and projects to strengthen institutions, improve livelihood and access to basic services, and improve security and the rule of law. The Plan is estimated to benefit at least 3.5 million people in the Bangsamoro. 

The MTF has a Steering Committee that oversees the strategy, implementation and evaluation of the program. It is chaired by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), the BDA and the World Bank, which also serves as the Trust Fund Secretariat.

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