The need to establish good partnership with the community and with officials of local government units (LGUs) is one of the main lessons culled in KFI’s implementation of a humanitarian protection project in two towns of Maguindanao and one town of North Cotabato. The project, which started on April this year, is with the assistance of the Cotabato City office of the United Nation High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR).
In her mid-term progress report dated July 15, 2011, project manager Daisy Bacero-Hapay claimed that though the impact of the project may be only felt towards its end in September, the 9-mos. project has had a good start owing mainly to the active participation and support of the community and LGU officials in its planning, implementation and even monitoring.
The project, whose objective is to improve the level of self-reliance and livelihood of returning IDPs, covers Barangay Damablak and North Binangga in Talayan; Pageda and Gadungan in Sultan Sumagka (formerly Talitay); and Olandang in Midsayap, North Cotabato.
Specific target beneficiaries are those IDPs who have already returned to their communities of origin after the major internal displacement in Central Mindanao in 2008 and 2009 due to the botched signing of a peace pact between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
As a strategy, the project has established a focal person for security per barangay to constantly monitor the security and IDP situation. But tapping the cooperation of the LGUs has also yielded positive results more than the project management has ever expected.
Bacero-Hapay says that key to the active participation and support given by the LGUs to the project is by having the latter informed and consulted on the project’s important aspects and by sharing to them updates as well as the processes and policies formulated by and agreed upon by the community partner organizations.
“The representatives of the municipal mayor, Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Municipal Planning and Development Officer (MPDO) are always there during the distribution of project support,” says Bacero-Hapay in an interview.
In addition, she also mentioned the commitment given by LGU officials for the joint monitoring of the project support extended to the communities.
An example of LGUs lending of direct support to the project was in North Binangga of Talayan where, according to her, the Municipal Agriculture Officer and the Provincial Agricultural Technologist have served as resource persons in a Farming Field School (FFS) on vegetable production conducted in the said barangay.
She also cited the municipal veterinarian of Midsayap who gave technical trainings on duck-raising to women IDP beneficiaries. Through the said local official, the planning group in Olandang also got affiliated with the Rural Improvement Club (RIC) which allowed it to avail of services normally open only to bonafide RIC members.
As of July 15, the project has reported that it has already formed five small-holders association in the project area; distributed bancas and fishing nets to the fishers of Sambolawan, Pageda and Gadungan; and a solar dryer and a hand tractor to farmers of North Binangga and Damablak, respectively.