Magazine article World of Work

BUILDING PEACE through Economic Development in the Southern Philippines

Magazine article World of Work

BUILDING PEACE through Economic Development in the Southern Philippines

Article excerpt

DAVAO ORIENTAL, PHILIPPINES - The southern Philippines looks back at a long history of insurgency and conflict. Decades of armed struggle have taken their toll on people's lives and livelihoods, fuelling poverty in conflict-affected areas in Mindanao.

Elmer Donaire is a 47 year-old farmer and father of four children. When he was 13, Elmer dropped out of school to work on the farm. His typical day would start at five in the morning to plow rice fields and to fetch water, carrying a load that was often too heavy for a young boy.

"It is not bad to dream of big things. I promised that my children will not suffer the same fate. I will work hard so that they can finish their studies and find a decent job one day," he said.

Elmer now heads the Tomaong United Lumad Association (TULAD) in Davao Oriental, which produces organic banana ketchup, flavoured banana chips, native coffee, coco vinegar, banana cake, honey and custard candies.

The association is one of the registered business groups in Mindanao that was supported by the Programme for Local Economic Development through Enhanced Governance and Grassroots Empowerment (PLEDGE). This joint project of the ILO and the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA) was launched in 2013.

The three-year programme supported confidence and peace-building efforts through local economic development of the conflict-affected provinces in Mindanao. The Mindanao Trust Fund supported the programme through a multi-donor grant facility by the European Union, Sweden, Australia, Canada, United States, New Zealand and the World Bank.

PLEDGE was the first enterprise and economic development project of the BDA, a local development agency created by the Philippine Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) via the Tripoli Agreement on Peace in 2001. The agency is mandated to lead, manage and determine relief and rehabilitation in conflict-affected areas in Mindanao.

PUTTING GUNS ASIDE

"We are for normalization. We have put aside our guns because this is a programme for the Bangsamoro community. It has changed the way we value things, and we have learnt how to run a project. They taught us everything. It really makes a big difference," said Abu SaffOnofre, Brigade Commander of the MILF from Davao Oriental.

When Onofre refers to normalization he summarizes what this project is all about: local communities benefit from a quality of life and work, and political participation that contributes to sustainable development and peace.

PLEDGE has provided the tools and strategies to build peace through sustainable livelihoods, enhanced institutional capacities and community ownership. …

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