Philippines: New moves in Mindanao

A two-year grassroots study to assess the social, economic and development needs of the war-devastated province of Mindanao in the Philippines, will be launched by JICA in late May.

The study is being conducted in areas under the control of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) primarily at the level of the barangay, the basic political unit in the Philippines. Based on the results, so-called quick impact projects in education, healthcare, water supply and economic improvement will be launched.

JICA President Sadako Ogata visited the region in September, 2006, and pledged her organization would help to restore stability in Mindanao after more than three decades of war between the government and Islamic and communist insurgents in which tens of thousands of persons were killed. A ceasefire was signed with the MILF in 2003 though talks on a permanent peace are continuing.

A formal agreement between the Philippine government and JICA followed in March and the agency then established a field office in Davao City with one Japanese staff member and five local personnel.

As in previous years, JICA continues to provide assistance to the Regional Government of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), particularly in the areas of medical care and agriculture.

In March, five local officials were sent to Malaysia to study Halal, or Islamic food processing techniques.

JICA is dispatching new evaluation teams to help develop local industry and infrastructure. It is conducting community development field studies in both the ARMM and MILF areas through nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and promoting cooperation frameworks in rice cultivation and livestock farming.