Philippines

Leave no one behind: UN-BARMM program launched to help build resilience of the Bangsamoro people

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BARMM and UN officials signing the project document “Ensuring inclusive, risk-informed and shock-responsive social protection resulting in more resilient communities in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao” during the virtual launch on 13 August 2020. Clockwise from top left: BARMM Government Chief Minister Mr. Al Haj Ahod B. Ebrahim, UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator in the Philippines Mr. Gustavo Gonzalez, UNICEF Philippines Country Representative Ms. Oyunsaikhan Dendevnorov, and FAO Philippines Country Representative (a.i) Ms. Xiangjun Yao. © UN/2020

MANILA/COTABATO, Philippines, 13 August 2020—The UN and the Bangsamoro Government jointly launched today a programme that aims to build the resilience of households in BARMM, with special attention to poor and vulnerable households, through timely and effective responses to risks and shocks.

In the Bangsamoro, 74.3 percent or 108,600 of families were poor in 2018, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). Conflict, natural disasters and the COVID-19 pandemic has the potential to push them deeper in to poverty. For example, child poverty in the region is the highest in the country at 68 percent. Almost 1.3 million children in BARMM live in poverty, around 7 out of 10 children (2018 PSA basic sector poverty report). During the COVID-19 pandemic, some families were excluded in the Social Amelioration Program (SAP).

This Joint Programme funded by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Fund, spearheaded by the UN and implemented by UNICEF, FAO and the BARMM Government aims to strengthen the social protection system of BARMM to make it inclusive, able to forecast risks, and quickly address needs in times of crises.

“The COVID-19 crisis is not only a health and humanitarian crisis, but also a human crisis, an economic crisis, and a development crisis, threatening the gains that the Philippines has made towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. To ensure that no one is left behind--a key guiding principle of the SDGs--governments should be able to establish a social protection system that is able to quickly and effectively aid people most-at-risk of the impact of disasters and emergencies,” Gustavo Gonzalez, UN Resident Coordinator in the Philippines says.

Social protection covers the range of policies and programmes needed to reduce the lifelong consequences of poverty and exclusion. Social protection programmes include cash transfers including child grants, school meals, unemployment benefits, skills development and more. They help connect families to essential health services and increase labour productivity, employability and income, no matter what circumstances they are in, to give them a fair chance in life.

In BARMM, social protection programmes lack data, coverage, capacity, cultural context and coherence with Social Protection, Disaster Risk Reduction and humanitarian policy at the national and regional levels. The current poverty registry also does not include risk and hazard vulnerability assessments for inclusive targeting and effective monitoring.

To address this, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) will work with Bangsamoro Government and its ministries, including the Bangsamoro Development and Planning Authority (BDPA), Ministry of Social Services and Development (MSSD), Ministry of Interior and Local Government (MILG), Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Agrarian Reform (MAFAR), and Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs (MIPA).

The programme will focus on three key interventions, including mainstreaming risk informed shock responsive social protection in the Bangsamoro Development Plan (BRDP); building capacity of BARMM institutions to analyze and monitor both natural and human-induced risks and improve synergy and; improving the poverty registry system to include risk and hazard vulnerability assessments, predictive analytics, inclusive targeting and effective monitoring.

“With the partnership that we have right now, I am immensely excited for the eventual outcomes and hopefully, its lasting impact to Bangsamoro communities who desire nothing more but a more peaceful life with opportunities that lie ahead for them,” says Ahod B. Ebrahim, Chief Minister of the BARMM Government.

“All of our initial plans, of course, are now retracted towards the impact of the global coronavirus pandemic. We are committed that when this crisis comes to an end, the Bangsamoro stands fine: economically, physically and to an extent, mentally,” he adds.

Junaira Dipatuan, a 22 year-old mother of three young children whose husband recently died is one of the first beneficiaries of the project. Poor and with little education, she was not included in the 4Ps list of beneficiaries. Junaira received cash assistance from UNICEF and the Ministry of Social Welfare and Development (MSSD) to help her recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I was one of those who received 5,000 pesos. I spent the money to buy my children food, medicines and vitamins. I was also able to buy some items for my store and make some rice cakes to sell. I put some away in case my children get sick. It was really hard for me to make a living during the lockdown. I want to thank UNICEF and MSSD for helping me. This program is a big help to poor people,” Junaira says.

Media Contacts

Jorjani Sinsuat

Information Officer

Bureau of Public Information, BARMM

Tel: +63 915 473 7166

Email: jorjani.sinsuat@gmail.com

Teresa Debuque

National Information Officer

UN Information Center Manila

Tel: +63 915 061 2351

Email: debuque@un.org