CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – About P25 million in aid was given to residents in some areas of Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao who were affected by the Marawi crisis by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) which will be used to boost their agricultural production.
According to FAO, the assistance will benefit communities in Marawi City and outlying municipalities of Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao who are just starting to get back on their feet after five months of fighting between extremists and state forces in Marawi.
The conflict, the agency said, has taken a heavy toll on rural livelihoods and industries, as well as the food supply and agribusiness value chain on which smallholders depend for their daily subsistence.
FAO said the amount was donated by the government of the Kingdom of Belgium and was channeled through FAO-SFERA (Special Fund for Emergency and Rehabilitation Activities) to fund the purchase and distribution of rice, corn vegetable seeds, fertilizer, farming tools and broiler chicken production packages to 4,949 farming families in Marawi, Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao.
The delivery of the agricultural inputs, FAO said, was aimed at helping returning and displaced farmers to reestablish their livelihoods and food security.
Among the recipients of the assistance are displaced families who are staying with their relatives, host communities and in evacuation centers, including agrarian reform beneficiaries.
The packages were meant to help augment their short-term food and income requirements, FAO said.
“The Government of Belgium and its people hope that our contribution will help ensure that those affected by the Marawi crisis are able to recover as quickly as possible,” Belgium Ambassador to the Philippines Michel Goffin said during his most recent visit to Marawi.
FAO Representative in the Philippines José Luis Fernandez said: “We acknowledge that recovery and rehabilitation take some time, but the concerted efforts of government, non-government organizations, and communities are already making positive impacts to the people affected by the crisis. We must continue working together to sustain the gains we have achieved so far.”
Fernandez said FAO’s emergency and recovery response to the Marawi crisis focuses on rehabilitating the agriculture and fisheries sector, restoring the food supply chain in affected communities, and helping farmers reclaim their lost livelihoods so that they can begin rebuilding their lives.
Working closely with various partners and stakeholders, FAO has also mapped out a short- to medium-term strategic response plan to restore the food supply and agribusiness value chain in Marawi and other affected municipalities and enable them to be better linked to regional markets.
But while the Marawi internally displaced persons (IDPs) will appreciate any form of donations from foreign entities, Suara Bangsamoro chair Jerome Succor Aba has urged the government to be transparent in all the financial assistance it has so far received from various donors.
“We welcome it (FAO donation). We are thankful that they have extended help in the rehabilitation of the Marawi crisis victims. But the [IDPs] want transparency in the aid that the government has received,” Aba said in a phone interview Thursday afternoon.
He added, both the national and local governments need to re-design its reconstruction plan for Marawi and make it people-oriented instead of being business-centered.
Aba alleged that the national government plans to level the 24 affected barangays located in what is called as “ground zero” so huge local local and foreign investors could put up their businesses there.
“All they (Marawi IDPs) want is to go back the communities they left behind during the crisis and rebuild their lives,” he said. (davaotoday.com)