After years of conflict, women on the Philippines island of Mindanao are taking reconstruction into their own hands. Through projects to reclaim old fishing grounds, start new market gardens and recycle used rice bags into rope, these women are leading the way towards a better future for themselves and their families.
MINDANAO—With the recent truce between government forces and rebels, families on the Philippines' southernmost island of Mindanao now face the daunting task of returning to their homes and rebuilding their lives.
"Over 90 per cent of the population here fled," said Baicon Macaraya who runs WFP operations on the northern part of the island. "When they returned, they had nothing to come home to. Their homes had been burnt and then there was no harvest for the farmers."
To help them restart their lives, Macaraya says that efforts have focused on engaging women in projects which revitalize the local economy.
In exchange for rations to feed themselves and their families, the participants take part in a range of activities from reclaiming fishing grounds by planting mangroves to tending community vegetable gardens.
The programme has also helped start up a community-owned business which recycles used rice bags into rope.
According to Macaraya, putting women in the driver's seat of these initiatives has helped to foster a spirit of community which has been instrumental in their success.