MANILA –In line with early recovery and rehabilitation efforts, Acting Governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Ansaruddin Alonto-Adiong has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for a Food-for-Assets Program in the provinces of Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur.
The ceremony on 20 April was attended by Stephen Anderson, WFP Country Director, and Alicia Bala, DSWD Undersecretary, and witnessed by Mr. Gabriel Muñuera Valls, Acting Head of Delegation of the European Union.
The Food-for-Assets program is a project funded by the European Union (EU) through its "€1 Billion Food Facility" which provides support to developing countries globally to help them cope with worsening food insecurity caused by volatile food prices.
The primary objectives of the EU Food Facility are to encourage a positive response from the agricultural sector in targeted countries, to respond rapidly and directly to mitigate the negative effects of volatile food prices on local populations and to strengthen the productive capacities and the governance of the agricultural sector to enhance the sustainability of interventions.
The European Union has earmarked nearly €32 million for the Philippines to support projects implemented by International Organizations (such as WFP, IFAD, and FAO) as well as by non-state actors.
The Food-for-Assets programme aims to restore and rehabilitate small-scale agricultural infrastructure in poor and food-insecure areas in Central Mindanao through food-for-work and food-for-training. The program improves farmers’ productivity through the provision of food in exchange for labour on projects such as irrigation schemes, farm-to-market roads, communal gardening and tree planting. Food will also be allocated to support relevant skills training in agriculture. WFP will provide about 9,700 metric tons of rice and 970 metric tons of beans for work and training to some 1.1 million people from smallholder farming communities.
“We are extremely encouraged by the ongoing collaboration with the ARMM Government for the improvement of household food security in Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur. We are also extremely grateful for the generous support from the European Union for this programme which benefits over a million people from poor farming communities in conflict-affected areas of Mindanao,” said WFP Country Director Anderson.
“Improving food production will mean both better nutrition and a better standard of living for the poor, many of whom remain chronically food-insecure. Our focus will be on increasing crop production through the rehabilitation of irrigation schemes, storage facilities and feeder roads,” he added.
The EU-funded food-for-assets activities are being rolled out in targeted food-insecure communities in the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Lanao del Norte, North Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat.
Since WFP returned to the Philippines in 2006, food-for-assets projects in Mindanao have created or rehabilitated important infrastructure such as solar crop dryers, small-scale irrigation and access roads. Women have benefited from literacy training, from support in using improved seed varieties and from effective parenting classes. Additionally, WFP has succeeded in increasing and sustaining school attendance and increasing the number of women and their children making use of maternal and child health services.