4M Euro project to boost community resilience and services for children in conflict-affected municipalities in BARMM
Joint press release
MARAWI CITY, 18 January 2023 – The Bangsamoro Government, European Union in the Philippines and UNICEF today launched “Building Community Resilience and Delivery of Essential Services for Post Conflict Recovery in Lanao del Sur/Marawi” to strengthen community resilience, increase coverage of essential services, and promote child-friendly family and community behaviours in 44 municipalities in the provinces of Lanao del Sur, Lanao del Norte and Bukidnon.
The action’s over 4 million Euros or 245 million pesos budget will fund health, education, child protection and disaster risk reduction programmes targeting 680,000 children, 200,000 parents and 120,000 internally displaced persons affected by the Marawi conflict. Project outcomes include maternal, neonatal, child and adolescent health, nutrition, water, and sanitation services; early childhood education and basic education services; child protection/social welfare systems; and child-friendly provincial and municipal planning and investment for children’s rights and reduced disaster risks.
“Our journey to development and peace lives on in every Bangsamoro youth who carries our dreams into the future. The unrelenting support of our partners enables us to shape a Bangsamoro that nurtures the health and well-being of each and every child,” Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim explained.
“Sustainable development, peace and security will not be achieved until every child has their rights fulfilled, respected and protected. Children have a right to just be children and play, learn and spend time with family and friends. Safeguarding the next generation from the effects of armed conflict is our collective responsibility,” UNICEF Philippines Representative Oyunsaikhan Dendevnorov added.
“This project we are launching today supports the BARMM’s regional and local authorities’ capacity to plan and deliver services, from health and sanitation, to education and social protection. It will contribute to the fulfilment of basic human rights of the populations benefitting from this project, foremost the children. The EU is very proud to have the opportunity to help fund this effort and partner up with the Bangsamoro authorities and with UNICEF, as part of our longstanding commitment to the wellbeing of children, and of course, to peace and development in the BARMM”, stated EU Ambassador Luc Véron.
The three-year “Building Community Resilience and Delivery of Essential Services for Post Conflict Recovery in Lanao del Sur/Marawi” project will involve collaboration among key agencies of the Bangsamoro Government including the Ministry of Health (MOH), Ministry of Social Services and Development (MSSD), Ministry of Basic, Higher and Technical Education (MBHTE), Ministry of the Interior and Local Government (MILG), provincial governors, and development and humanitarian partners. Special focus will be given to vulnerable populations including pregnant and lactating women, children with disabilities, indigenous children, out-of-school youth, adolescents at risk of being recruited into armed groups, internally displaced persons, and girls.
Lanao del Sur remains one of the poorest provinces in the Philippines, with the highest number of internally displaced persons due to human-induced and natural causes. Over 80 per cent of children live in poverty and their rights to health, education, and protection are not cared for. Conflict, internal displacement, limited development opportunities and the COVID-19 pandemic all have contributed to this situation. A whole generation of children in the BARMM may see their capacity to thrive as adults hampered, impacting the region’s sustainable development and long-lasting peace.
Decades of conflict and underinvestment in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) has resulted in poor development outcomes for its 4.37 population including children. Within BARMM, Lanao del Sur province is home to an estimated 1.19 million people (PSA 2021) and is the poorest province in the Philippines with 64% living in poverty. It continues to be affected by armed conflict and is the province with the biggest number of displaced people, with some 120,000 individuals still displaced from the 2017 Marawi-city armed conflict, and now living within host communities and temporary settlement areas. Three years after the end of the Marawi-armed conflict, the province of Lanao del Sur is yet to fully recover. Many families have depleted assets and exhausted coping mechanisms.
The situation of children in Lanao-del Sur is among the worst in the country. The UNICEF Situation Analysis of Children in ARMM (BARMM) carried out in 2017 highlighted that over 80% of children live in poverty and many are deprived of their rights to health, education, and protection. Poor access to schools due to geographic distance and cost has resulted in low school enrolments and a high number of children dropping out, especially boys. Similarly, poor access to health services has resulted in low vaccination coverage and high malnutrition. Weak protection systems, with a severe lack of social workers leaves most children unprotected and without support or referral services and at-risk of associating with armed groups - especially for the more than 100,000 adolescents out of school in the province.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children in the Philippines, visit www.unicef.ph.