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Community Development in the Camps

Community Development in the Camps (59)

March 20, 2022. Improved road access, the chance to meet together despite the distance and pandemic and more of these stories manifest the significant progress and transformation happening in the camp communities once marginalized from development.

During the recent gathering of community volunteers and the transitioning combatants from the different villages covered under the six major camps of the Moro Islamic Liberation (MILF) on March 14-15, 2022 at Cotabato City, shared their narratives and experiences in relation to the on-going transformation in the camps.

“Before, the road going to Brgy. Tamparan in Munai, Lanao del Norte (Camp Bilal) was difficult and risky. Now, we are happy that there is a better road to reach the village, far from its condition, years ago”, Joint Task Force on Camps Transformation (JTFCT) Camp Bilal said.

Co-chairman of the JTFCT Camp Badre expressed that “Simple meeting like this activity is already significant for us. We are all comrades in this struggle, all worked as combatants but it was very rare that we meet because we are coming from different camps. But this project gathered us”.

This said gathering happened during the Project End Review and Reflection Session conducted in line with completion of the Camps of Learning Project (CLP)- a project that aims to promote inclusive peace through literacy in the Bangsamoro.

In the event, BDA together with partner and the participants reviewed the project implementation and drew lessons learned that shall be relevant to consider in the future. This was guided by the project development objectives, project steps, and was through a reflection session wherein the body identified what went well, and the areas that need be improved.

Took off in April 2021, CLP has touched the lives of many in the camps. The building of community learning centers equipped with complete facilities provided a permanent and convenient learning place for the learners who, before the project, have to run into any available facility in their village just to join the classes on Alternative Learning System (ALS).  

Attending and completing the ALS sessions helped promote peace with the beneficiaries feeling the empowerment and self- growth as they learn basic literacy such as writing their names by their own, counting numbers, reading and writing few basic words.

Learner from Camp Abubakar is confident that by the coming national and local election in the country, people can read their names from the voters’ list as they can now write to cast their votes.

From Camp Badre, the learner is grateful that even without a degree, the project brought them education and made them experienced studying and learning at school through the ALS.

As the project also carried skills training for the beneficiaries, people in Camp Bilal are thankful that aside from basic literacy, they also learned additional knowledge and skills that is helpful to augment their daily income.

For the people in Camp Rajamuda, the learning they acquired from the project will never be forgotten.

Camp Omar is likewise in gratitude for the project that served as bridge for the people to learn.

Learner in Camp Bushra is happy that the literacy sessions are completed.

CLP is formally closing this March 2022 leaving fully equipped learning centers across the six major camps of the MILF. The project hopes that the facility shall be used in the future in bringing literacy, empowerment and development in the lives of the people in the camps, long been deprived of such services due to the war in the past.

There were 480 learners who successfully completed the ALS and are now confident having the ability to read, write and count.

The implementation of ALS in camp communities was guided by the Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) signed with the Ministry of Basic, Higher and Technical Education (MBHTE- BARMM) for areas under the Bangsamoro Region. Communities outside the region like Brgy. Inug-ug in Pikit is coordinated with the Department of Education- North Cotabato Division (Region XII) and Lanao del Norte Division (Region IX) for Brgy. Tamparan in Munai. 

Further, the project was in support to the Normalization Annex of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).

CLP is funded by Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID).

February 2, 2022. In the remote communities in Mindanao, particularly Bangsamoro Region, access to basic services like education and health remains deprived, although with significant improvement considering the continuing development assistance from various donor organizations. This has become more apparent now with the Bangsamoro Government now established anticipated to be responsive to the needs of the people in the region, long been wedged by decades of armed conflict.

On education, (as per the results of its Functional Literacy, Education and Mass Media Survey by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) in 2019), that by region, Metro Manila posted the highest functional literacy rate of 96.5%, while the lowest was recorded in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) with 71.6%.

Of this number Sally Bandara, 30, a Teduray from Brgy. Datalpandan, Guindulungan in Maguindanao (within MILF Camp Badre) can be counted among the illiterate groups.

Teduray is among the tribes identified as indigenous people.

Sally says that because of distance and access, being in the mountains, they did not get education.

“Our ancestors were illiterate, because of that, our parents did not allow us to study”, Sally stated.

With the construction of community learning center in their village in Brgy. Datalpandan, Guindulungan in Maguindanao (within MILF Camp Badre), and the implementation of Alternative Learning System (ALS), Sally feels positive about getting education.

“Back then, we used to run from the school because of ignorance, but now, it is the school that comes to us. You have given us this CLC with teachers who are walking on different roads just to reach us for education”, she expressed.

Sally is very happy that she is now learning to write her own name, that she will no longer rely on thumbmark to affix her signature.

Education was also impossible for a combatant like Taha Gawang, 51, Maguindanaon, who is residing from the same village of Sally.

He said “it is due to poverty and war in the past that I did not get education”.

Now, through the ALS, Taha can write his own name and is happy that recently, he was able to write his name when he registered to receive money from a relative abroad, unlike before where he can only do thumbmark.

“Staff from the remittance center was also surprised when they saw me writing my name”, Taha happily shared.

Adullah H.Esmail, the instructional manager, said that Taha is among the transitioning combatants of the MILF, and does farming to sustain his family of eight.

This particular implementation of ALS in camp communities is under the Camps of Learning Project (CLP) that aims to promote peace and inclusion through basic literacy in the Bangsamoro. The project is funded by the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (#AECID).

Baidido Malignan, 45, a Maguindanaon is also an ALS learner registered under the project. She is enrolled at the CLC in Camp Omar, specifically in Brgy. Saniag, Ampatuan, Maguindanao.

Baidido narrated that she was not able to get education because she has to help her father in the farm, where they get a living for their family of five.

“I joined ALS to learn writing and reading”, she said.

According to Datufaizal Macacana, the instructional manager of Baidido, she can now write her name along with other few words. Also, albeit slowly, Baidido can now read.

Baidido is a widow and is selling a pastil (a rice with shredded chicken wrapped in banana leaf) to provide for her children. 

ALS in camp communities is also giving hope to the youth. In Brgy. Tamparan, Munai, Lanao del Norte (belong to MILF Camp Bilal), Abdani Deki and Diya U. Mamaki are both timid during ALS sessions but are appreciative when Aisah Acob, the IM teaches them one-on-one.

Now, they can write their own names and other few words. Aisah reported that the two have significant improvement on penmanship, even better than hers, but remains slow in reading activities. She hopes that by the end of the project, the learners will be able to read sentences.

Under the CLP, there are four hundred eight (480) number of ALS learners across the six major camps of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) where the project is being implemented. 

They are vulnerable sectors in the community like women, out-of-school youth, elderlies, indigenous people and others who were not able to get formal education due to poverty, difficult access and armed conflict in the past years.

It is noted that the implementation of ALS in camp communities is well- coordinated with the BARMM’s Education Ministry for the areas under the Bangsamoro Region. Communities outside the region like Brgy. Inug-ug in Pikit is coordinated with the Department of Education- North Cotabato Division (Region XII) and Lanao del Norte Division (Region IX) for Brgy. Tamparan in Munai. 

With the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA Inc.) as the Project Implementing Unit (PIU), the project is funded by the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID).

November 5, 2021. Datufaizal Macacana 36, (2nd photo below), travels from Poblacion, Datu Odin Sinsuat in Maguindanao to Brgy. Saniag, Ampatuan in the same province from Monday to Thursday to fulfill his responsibility as Instructional Manager (IM) to the learners of the Alternative Learning System (ALS)- a component of the Camps of Learning Project that promotes literacy in communities within the six major camps of the MILF acknowledged in the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).

He started working as an IM for ALS in camp communities, particularly in Camp Omar in year 2019. Faizal understands the complexity of working in remote areas, especially in a camp, known to be a battlefield during the armed- conflicts in the past years. For him, he chose this job in belief that he can help serve those people who did not have education due to war in the past.

Faizal was a 4th year in secondary education when he learned about the conflict in Mindanao, particularly in Bangsamoro where he was born. “My father was often on duty in Camp Abubakar those times, for many months, so I knew and understand the struggle of the Bangsamoro”, he stated.

With his job as IM at present, Faizal feels good for the experience of being able to work with the local government unit (LGU) and the people in community.

He wishes enlightenment for his learners about the importance of education.

“I hope that I can help them be motivated towards education, that poverty is not a hindrance to learn, because at present, there are many opportunities in the Bangsamoro, that can assist people to improve their lives”, Faizal told.

Colleagues of Datufaizal for literacy sessions in Camps Omar are Aisa Mantikayan, Noraina Sambad and Nor-ain Kaliman.

Meanwhile, a colleague of Faizal from Lanao del Norte, named Aisah Acob, 29 also shares story of her work as IM in the remote village within the Camp Bilal, particularly in Brgy. Tamparan, Munai, Lanao del Norte.

For Aisah, what she loves most about her role as IM is being able to be an instrument in providing learning for those people who did not have the chance because of the war, poverty and low access to basic services.

She hopes that by teaching, her learners would learn things that are useful for daily lives.

“I want them not just a reader but a leader in the future. I use the quote “Be a READER today, tomorrow a LEADER”, for them because I have this learner who is a barangay councilor.  She cannot read even simple words and sentences, only understands simple Filipino words. And for that she cannot fully participate in the development of the community because she is not confident and capable enough due to poor literacy”, Aisah stated.

In Camp Bilal, Aisah is joined by Norayah Mananggolo, Ibrahim Dangcogan and Aslimah Maminta.

Amerah Anta, 40, is also an IM working for the ALS learners in Brgy. Inug-ug, Pikit, North Cotabato, a village within the MILF’s Camp Rajamuda.

She shared that facilitating the learning session for the learners in a camp community is not easy. But her years of experience in the job, since 2016, equipped her with more knowledge and determination- moreover, knowing and understanding that this is part of her contribution to the Bangsamoro struggle.

“I wish that they will all complete this program, and whatever they learn from ALS will be significant in their lives”, Amerah expressed.

In Camp Rajamuda, Amera is working with Shaffreah Kuta, Sulaipa Unggui and Layra Mahmod.

Bedorie Panaudan, 34, has been working as an IM in Camp Bushra since 2016. Being an IM, she is very happy for the ability to share knowledge.

“I am happier when I see their eagerness to learn. Through this ALS, I can help in giving hope to the people in camp communities”, she stated.

Bedorie is working with Yasmin Abdulmanan, Mojahid Magazoga and Saniah Oga are facilitating the ALS classes in Camp Bushra.

Another IM, Sabrina Masacal, 25, is facilitating ALS sessions in Camp Abubakar, particularly Brgy. Tabuan, Kapatagan, Lanao del Sur.

She said that she loves doing community services. Sabrina is a social worker and applied for this job knowing that she can help those people who are in remote areas by sharing knowledge.

“I wish that my learners will acquire knowledge that they can use for their selves and have the courage to do what they wanted in life”, Sabrina told.

Sabrina is working with Noraina Mamantek, Analiza Pagayawan and Samera Bagnas. In Camp Abubakar.  

ALS facilitators in Camp Badre namely Abdullah H.Esmail, Kalindato Bato, Zainudin Kusain and Muslimin Abdul have to cross a river to reach their learners in the remote village of Brgy. Datalpandan, Guindulungan, Maguindanao, including the indigenous people community- who are thankful for reaching out to them despite the distance to bring them literacy.

At present, there are four hundred eight (480) number of ALS learners across the six major camps of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) where the CLP is being implemented. 

They are vulnerable sectors in the community like women, out-of-school youth, elderlies, indigenous people and others who were not able to get formal education due to poverty, difficult access and armed conflict in the past years.

It is noted that the implementation of ALS in camp communities is well- coordinated with the BARMM’s Education Ministry for the areas under the Bangsamoro Region. Communities outside the region like Brgy. Inug-ug in Pikit is with the Department of Education- North Cotabato Division (Region XII) and Lanao del Norte Division (Region IX) for Brgy. Tamparan in Munai. 

CLP is a project "Promoting Peace and Inclusion Through Basic Literacy in the Bangsamoro" with the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA Inc.) as project implementing unit (PIU). 

The project is funded by the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID).

(COTABATO CITY). For families living in the uphill of Brgy. Datalpandan, Guidulungan, Maguindanao, life would be better if development assistance reaches them.

In a community dialogue on October 19, 2021, during the World Bank visit in the village, one member of indigenous people particularly told their will to get vaccinated of the COVID-19 but expressed hope for the health ministry of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) to come in their barangay so that the people will no longer need to travel from a far to get a vaccine.

As response, the Rural Health Unit (RHU) in the barangay explained that the road is difficult to reach the village uphill and the vaccine requires a specific storage, which is not ideal for long rough travel.

Dr. Bashary Latiph, Minister of the Ministry of Health (MOH) said that the BARMM together with development partners have been working hard making sure that every Bangsamoro will be able to have easy and accessible facility that will cater for their health needs.

“We want to widen our reach, to render a more intensive service. We want to make sure that no one is left behind. In sha Allah, with our development partners, we are here for all of you, to provide for your needs. I would like to thank the World Bank for the never ending support to the Bangsamoro and to the indigenous people. Thank you to everyone who have been working non-stop, realizing the dreams of everyone: a peaceful and prosperous Bangsamoro” Dr. Latiph stated.

Felino V. Samar, representative from the Ministry of Indigenous People’s Affairs (MIPA) thanks the BARMM Government and development partners for including the IP communities towards development.

“Like the case of Datalpandan, 95% are Moro and 5% are IP. But in giving the project, the IP group is counted. So, we are really thankful”, MIPA official told.

Meanwhile, women group is hoping for a livelihood assistance e.g. dressmaking, to supplement their daily income in sustaining their families.

Farmer group is wishing for a road project, especially a bridge that shall ease the burden of crossing the river in their village.

Hon. Ali O. Salik, member of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) expressed thanks for the WB visit that he described as an indicator of progress and development in the camp.

Salik is also the camp coordinator of the six major camps of the MILF and hopes that this visit will bring fruitful conversation with the beneficiaries in Camp Bad’r.

“We are confident that World Bank will continue to provide support through future project here in BARMM, in general.  We really appreciate your commitment and dedication for development initiative. I hope that economic analysis before and after the project will push significant posture and positive changes to the people of camp Bad’r”, MP Salik stated.

Datalpandan is a home to mixed population of Muslim and indigenous people. Major source of living is farming.

The community has been a recipient of road project, post-harvest facility, water system, solar panel and a community learning center for the delivery of Alternative Learning System (ALS).

This has been through the Mindanao Trust Fund- Reconstruction and Development Project Phase II and III and the recent Camps of Learning Project (CLP)- wherein the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA Inc.) functioned as project implementing agency.

In a message from the World Bank during the recent visit on October 19, Ndiame Diop country director to Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand, East Asia and Pacific stated the World Bank as an active supporter of Mindanao’s peace and development agenda, more importantly with the MILF and GPH peace process.

“As a testament to this, for more than a decade now, through the Mindanao Trust Fund (MTF) and the MTF Reconstruction and Development Projects Phases 1, 2 and 3, together with our donors, we have supported projects geared toward socio-economic development”, Diop said.

The country director re-affirmed the Bank’s commitment to helping in achieving the peace and development aspirations of the Bangsamoro.

“Through this visit, we hope to listen to the stories of your MTF RDP journey, learn from your experience and take on your recommendations on how to best support your communities and BARMM going forward”, he stated.

Brgy. Datalpandan is a community within BARMM and is also part of the territory of Camp Badre- one major camp of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) as named in the Normalization Annex of the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro (CAB) signed between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the MILF in 2014.

Assistance to camp communities has been one of priorities in support to the implementation of the CAB. It aims to help in the socio-economic development of conflict-affected communities and eventually transition from war to productive and peaceful village.

(March 30, 2021). M’ranao families in Sitio Kura-Kura, Brgy. Tamparan, Lanao del Norte- Camp Bilal is hopeful and happy to welcome the month of Ramadhan (a month of fasting in Islam) now that their village will be brighter as the solar street lights are installed and officially turned over on March 24, 2021 along the newly constructed access road in the community. Ramadhan this year is expected to start on 2nd week of April.  

The project is funded through the Mindanao Trust Fund- Reconstruction and Development Project Phase III (MTF-RDP/3), in support to the Confidence Building Initiatives for the Camps Transformation stated in Normalization Annex of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).

“There were few people residing here, before because of the isolation and difficult access. Now we see development and people are coming to build their homes in Sitio Kura-Kura”, Ibrahim

Camp Project Support Team (CPST) of the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA Inc.) reported that the place is identified by Task Force on Camps Transformation (TFCT) as center of development of Camp Bilal, one of the six major camps of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) acknowledged in the CAB of 2014 for transformation from conflict to productive communities.

The community has been receiving development projects such as agri-facility building, farmer’s training center, road projects, health facility along with various interventions that promotes community empowerment and enlightenment. (R.Adam)

March 30, 2021. According to Normina Atoy, a farmer in Brgy. Kinebeka, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao (CAMP BADRE), the training is a great help for them farmers to improve their agriculture practices.

“Farming is our source of income; we have been doing it all our life, and only now that we learned that useful information to make our farming more convenient and competitive” Normina said.

She added that farming has been expensive for them since they have to buy pesticides and fertilizers. Through the training, they knew local alternatives that can be produced to supplement the nutrition of farm crops and can help prevent pests from destroying their plants.

“If only we knew this in the past, life would be easier. Now we are motivated and determined to apply all that we learned”, Normina told.

She said that farming gives fair income to the family. Capital usually reaches to Php 20, 000.00 for one hectare of land and the gains after the harvest is more or less Php 40, 000.00

With rich agricultural land, farming is one primary source of income in the province of Maguindanao.

The Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Agrarian Reform (MAFAR) provided the training inputs and lectures to hundreds of farmers and other sectors during the series of productivity trainings conducted like rice and corn production, vegetable farming, peanut processing, native chicken, others.

The Ministry of Basic, Higher and Technical Education (MBHTE) through accredited partners organizations facilitated training on banana processing, food processing, others.

Meanwhile, trainings on coconut oil and virgin coconut oil processing was facilitated by Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA), while indigenous people group from Koronadal City taught elderly sectors on crafting and weaving of native products.

Productivity training is one sub-component of the Mindanao Trust Fund- Reconstruction and Development Project Phase III (MTF-RDP/3), implemented in support to the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB). It covers the six previously acknowledged camps of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) namely Camp Abubakar as Siddique in Maguindanao, Camp Badre in Maguindanao, Camp Bilal in Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur, Camp Bushra Somiorang in Lanao del Sur, Camp Omar Ibn al-Khattab in Maguindanao and Camp Rajamuda in North Cotabato and Maguindanao.

Partnership with BARMM ministries and offices is also one component of MTF-RDP/3 through mainstreaming activities that aims to promote collaborative approach for better services to Bangsamoro communities. BARMM ministries engaged in the mainstreaming are Ministry of Health, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Agrarian Reform, Ministry of Basic, Higher and Technical Education, Ministry of Interior and Local Government, Ministry of Public Works, Ministry of Indigenous People’s Affairs, Ministry of Public Order and Safety, Ministry of Social Services and Development, Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources and Energy and Bangsamoro Planning and Development Authority.

Recently, the project organized a joint field mission with BARMM ministries to camp communities where community interaction and project site visit were undertaken.

Under the MTF-RDP/3, various socio-economic infrastructure (SEI) projects are underway both community sub-projects and health sub-projects, designed to help improve the access of community beneficiaries to basic socio-economic services.

The Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA Inc.) is taking the role as project implementing unit (PIU) for MTF-RDP/3. BDA was established in 2002 out of the GPH-MILF Tripoli Agreement of 2001; and was officially registered as non-government organization in 2019 after the Bangsamoro Government was established. MILF Chairman Al-Haj Murad Ebrahim and Interim Chief Minister Ahod Balawag in a virtual meeting in July 2020 with the World Bank underscored that the MILF remains committed to support development projects through the BDA Inc.

(March 15, 2021).  In this era of development in the Bangsamoro, women rise and recall stories of sacrifices in times of war.

Ustadza Halima Hashim of Brgy. Inug- ug, Pikit, North Cotabato in a speech during a turnover ceremony of water system project, recalled that in times of battle “we could not meet and convene like this; we get water from marsh for daily use”.

She spoke about gratitude and dedication.

“We have to be grateful for all this development happening at present. We remember those who sacrificed, those who shed blood. They are not with us anymore, today”, the respected-woman told.

She added “now that we see this development, we have to work together and harder”.

Ustadza Halima is a sister of the late MILF founding chairman Salamat Hashim. She possesses a leadership charm, being the chair of MILF Social Welfare Committee (SWC) Liguasan Province.  As a woman-leader in the woman-wing of the MILF, she has the respect, trust and support of fellow women members, other stakeholders and of the whole community.

(BRGY. NABALAWAG, BARIRA, MAGUINDANAO-CAMP ABUBAKAR). Hasana Balitok of Brgy. Nabalawag, Barira, Maguindanao- Camp Abubakar can still remember the past where she witnessed and experienced life in war and evacuation.

“Young I was, I saw the struggle of our people, our community during the time of war”, she said.

In teary eyes, she cannot help but share joy seeing the development coming in to their village.

“I’m really happy that at present, community needs are being responded like this road project”, Hasana stated.

She shared that Brgy. Nabalawag, was really a remote area. People would struggle to get living, away from civilization. There were no roads and bridges so the community would really endure the long walks and hard ways in order to access basic needs from nearest market.

“It was really difficult e.g., for sick people, because it takes really hard times to get to the adjacent health facility, and there was no means of transportation, only horses or by people carrying the sick with a blanket. Once, an animal died by crossing the river to transport local crops”, Hasana told.

Hasana is the vice president of Nabalawag Peace and Development Organization, a people’s organization mobilized through the Mindanao Trust Fund- Reconstruction and Development Project (MTF-RDP Phase II and III)- implemented in support to the Normalization Annex of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).

Brgy. Nabalawag received road project from MTF-RDP that helped improved the access of the community to basic services such as health, education and livelihood.

For Hasana, it significant to involve women in development activities.

“In our case with our organization, I as vice president support our leader, who have less educational background. We do not think that way, instead, we help him in order for our organization to grow- because in unity we will progress together as one community”, Hasana added.

She said that NPDO is looking forward to establish own office to be able to function better as organization, working for the development of the whole community, which past is defined by war and isolation but with future inspired by common aspiration to become progressive.

(BRGY. SANDAB BUTIG, LANAO DEL SUR- CAMP BUSHRA). Naira Bimbad, 54, from Brgy. Sandab Butig, Lanao del Sur (CAMP BUSHRA) lost their three children during the time of all-out-war in 2000. It was in heavy heart that they (with her husband) went home after the war, without their kids. Naira and husband moved on and now have five children. Naira sees better future for her family, with the recent peace and development in the region.

She was among the farmer- participants to the recent training on peanut processing, as one sub-component of the MTF-RDP/3.

Naira is thankful of the training and is now confident to improve their farming methods and become more productive for her family.

(BRGY. KINEBEKA, DATU ODIN SINSUAT, MAGUINDANAO- CAMP BADRE). Cely Abdul, 60 of Brgy. Kinebeka, DOS, Maguindanao never taught that development would come to them in the mountains.

“We live in this remote area, almost difficult to reach. It was difficult for us women to go to the market. Public transport only comes once a week, so there was really a struggle to get basic commodities for living”, she recalled.

Cely is thankful for the development coming to their community and is now leading the other women in the village to become participative in development activities.

“I told them (women) to go out, learn time management and become productive. Find other means to help earn income, to have improvement for their families”, she said.

Cely is a Teduray, married to Muslim and is looking forward to strengthen and sustain their organization in Brgy. Kinebeka, especially now that the construction of agri-facility building is soon to be completed where women sector will have

(BRGY. SANIAG, AMPATUAN, MAGUINDANAO- CAMP OMAR). Janet Saligan, 54, a Teduray in Brgy. Saniag, Ampatuan, Maguindanao recalls that during armed conflict in the past years, they would spend nights by the mountains to watch over the process of charcoal making, where they earn income for their family of eight.

“It was difficult. I told my husband to better stay at night to ensure that we can produce charcoal because, sometimes, if something went wrong during the process then our hard work will be wasted. Charcoal making is our alternative source of income when farming failed due to pests attack”, Janet told.

She added that “it was really hard during those times, we have to climb the mountains, there was no good road like now, then peace and order was not stable. There was fear in us but we have to live so we went on”.

Janet joins the group of elderly sectors in learning to produce native products made of local fern abundant in their mountainous village. She intends to share the skills acquired from the training to help her community become productive.

(BRGY. TAMPARAN, MUNAI, LANAO DEL NORTE- CAMP BILAL). Parents in the barangay especially the mothers are happy about the farmers’ training center constructed in December 2020.

“We wanted to join community activities. But we cannot leave our children at home unsupervised by adults. This center is helpful because we have this formal venue for community gatherings where we can get involved while there is a space for our children within the building, so it is convenient for us”, mothers told.

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The role of women in peace and development is irrefutable. The stories of Halima, Hasana, Naira, Cely and Janet speak of the vital part of the women in advancing the welfare of their communities. The Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA Inc.) recognizes this reality in relevance to inclusiveness as one value the agency upholds. In 2020, thirty percent of BDA’s staff were women. Same percentage is also true for one project in Upi, Maguindanao, where women were employed for the implementation of water system project responding to the needs of the community. Fifty percent of the total beneficiaries for the camps project are women.

In the Philippines, March 8, is declared as National Women’s Month (RA6949). Various laws related to women rights and protection includes Anti- Sexual Harassment Act of 1995, Anti-Rape Law of 1997, Anti-Trafficking in Person of 2003, Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children (VAWC) in 2004, among others.

 

(February 10, 2021) In the remote area of Brgy. Palao sa Buto in Datu Paglas, Maguindanao (CAMP RAJAMUDA) people have to buy safe water from the town center (8 kilometers).

Zarima Ulangkaya, a mother of nine shared their struggle in the community for clean water for their families.

The family of Zarima rely on farming as source of income like many of other families in the village.

“We have deep well as source of water for our daily life. But it is not safe for drinking. We have to buy from the town center”, Zarima said.

She added that the water from the deep well can only be used for washing dishes and clothes, and for bathing.

“Sometimes, some water source cannot provide usable liquid because of the high salt content, that does not work for soap or detergents” Zarima told.

For the community, fetching water from the deep well is difficult, but what is harder is the access to safe water.

“One-gallon of clean water costs P15.00, that is good for three days for drinking only. For our family, we can buy three gallons but for others who can only buy one gallon, it is difficult because the transportation cost (P100.00) is more expensive than the water fee”, Zarima explained.

 

On February 9, 2021, Zarina and the whole community of Brgy. Palao sa Buto may start telling better stories of their access to safe water. The barangay has officially received a solar-powered water system project through the Mindanao Trust Fund- Reconstruction and Development Project Phase II (MTF-RDP/2).

The turnover ceremony was held on the said day that marked the official acceptance of the People’ Organization in the barangay on the responsibility over the management and operation of the project.

Women involvement in camps development project is highly regarded as the MTF-RDP/2 employs community-driven development (CDD), where participation of all sectors in the community is encouraged for consultative and inclusive project approach that is helpful in promoting ownership, transparency, accountability and sustainability.

In 2019, 52% of the over 50, 000 total number of beneficiaries across the six major camps are women.

The Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA Inc.) as project implementing unit of the MTF-RDP/2 reported that quality, safety and compliance of the project implementation of water system are considered taking into account the agreed standards and policies of the World Bank- the fund administrator of the Mindanao Trust Fund (MTF).  

Selection of the project was decided based on the series of consultations and meetings with the various stakeholders and the Task Forces on Camps Transformation (TFCT- MILF), who are combatants selected to undergo capacity building to transition their mindset from conflict to development.

MTF-RDP/2 was agreed in 2018, with the common aspiration to sustain the momentum of the peace process between the GPH-MILF, this time focus on the six previously acknowledged major camps of the MILF as informed by the Normalization Annex of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).

The project was building on the 10 years of experience of community- driven development (CDD), the Phase I of the MTFRDP (2006-2017).  

It now covers selected villages in the six major camps of the MILF (Abubakar, Badre, Bilal, Bushra, Omar and Rajamuda).

In its development plan launched recently, BARMM reported that in 2018, 55% of households in ARMM have access to safe drinking water.

(February 3, 2021). People in three of four barangays in camp communities has to endure long travel time before reaching the nearest health facility. This was based on the initial findings from recent community visits in the camps, in relevance to the health sub-component of the community development assistance under the Mindanao Trust Fund- Reconstruction and Development Project Phase III (MTF-RDP/3).

The assistance on health for MTF-RDP/3 is intended to expand the services for camp communities, considering the poor health condition in remote areas, further the current threat of the COVID-19 global pandemic.

Part of this support is the series of orientation on COVID-19 that helped in raising the awareness and understanding of camps people on this infectious disease. Topics were defining COVID-19, signs and symptoms, preventive measures, among others.

In one meeting with BARMM agencies, Ministry of Health (MOH) expressed support to the program sharing the belief that indeed, people in distant areas have poor access to correct information, which is quite disturbing for their health, safety and overall being.

“You would see that people in the camps are in good condition. Many still believe in traditional healing methods. But as health professionals, it is our responsibility to help these people understand better the importance of health e.g. maternal care, vaccination, etc.”, Carolyn B. Piang, BDA Inc. public health officer stated.

BDA Inc. is looking forward to conduct survey on the health status in camp communities to determine needs in these remote areas and possibly come up with specific intervention, in the near future.

Also included in health services is the education on reproductive health, child care, blood donation, others.

Visit to rural health units in the project sites was also relevant part in supporting camps communities in terms of medical services.

Recently, health workers selected to assist health programs in camp communities underwent training on first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). The activity was facilitated by Philippines National Red Cross (PNRC)- Cotabato City Chapter.

Participants also had the chance to visit community birthing clinic in Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao- where they learned how this simple birthing facility was able to grow and develop, with the spirit of committed service for communities in need.

Health workers from Amanah Birthing Clinic and PNRC both told participants to be guided by commitment over employment in practicing health profession.

“By simply responding to a question on what to do for headache, is already a service that you render.”

Participants expressed thanks for the training, with many of them having the said training for the first time. Through this activity, they understand further their roles and responsibilities in providing health services in camp communities.

This training is part of the MTF-RDP/3- a project supporting the implementation of the Normalization Annex of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB). 

Health facilities are also underway through MTF-RDP/3. There will be one unit of health facility for each of the six major camps covered by the project. The construction started in January 2021.

WHAT DO WE MEAN BY A “BETTER LIFE” THAT WE ALL WORKING AND WANTED FOR?

December 2020. For a community in Brgy. Tabuan, Kapatagan, Lanao del Sur (CAMP ABUBABAKAR), better life means better access to basic services- a change of living condition to better.

“The lifestyle of the people here has changed. Many were able to buy single motorcycles and other vehicle types because it is now accessible. Before the road project, we can only go to the nearest market once a day due to the difficulty in road access. Now, we can come and go more frequently to avail our needs for our families”, Analyn Talib stated. She is a member of the people’s organization in the barangay mobilized during the project implementation.

Banoy Ali, a farmer in the barangay recalls (before the road project) that sometimes some farmers have to manually carry their crops going to the market due to incapacity to pay for transportation cost (through horse). Now transport is easy since the barangay becomes accessible for other types of transport- lesser time and expenses because of the good road condition. 

In 2018, Brgy. Tabuan received a road project through the Mindanao Trust Fund- Reconstruction and Development Project Phase II (MTF-RDP/2). The road was completed and turned over to the community in August 2019.

More than a year after project turnover to the community, the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA Inc.) went back to the barangay and asked how did the Iranun community in Brgy. Tabuan manage the operation, maintenance and sustainability of the one-lane concrete road.

The road is still in good condition and essential benefits are countless for the whole community. Farmers have better transport of crops, women have improved access for their needs, the children and the other sectors.  

Now, Brgy. Tabuan is once again selected to receive agri- training and production facility through the MTF-RDP on its Phase III. The barangay is within the Camp Abubakar of the six previously acknowledged camps of the MILF- where the MTF-RDP/3 is being implemented in support to the Normalization Annex of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB). (Re-Ann Adam/BDA Comm)

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