Thursday, March 04, 2010

Hundreds of ARMM villages to benefit from new World Bank fund

COTABATO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Mar. 4, 2010) – The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao is pursuing to bankroll a $30-million World Bank-funded three-year extension of the ARMM Social Fund Projects in at least 596 villages affected by previous fighting between rebel and military forces.

Regional officials made this announcement Thursday as they corrected an earlier report, which claimed the World Bank has already approved the fund.

“It was actually the National Economic Development Authority Board chaired by President Gloria Arroyo that recently approved the fund request from the World Bank, which is yet to decide on the request, although we anticipate its positive action,” ASFP information specialist Irene Fernandez Gonzales said.

In a press briefing in Cotabato City last month, ASFP Project Manager Nasser Sinarimbo urged for public cooperation in the implemantation of the project and stressed that the national government and World Bank have earmarked the loan for ARMM alone this time.

“The fund is a loan and all Filipinos are supposed to pay it back. We have to see to it that every penny of it is spent religiously in response to the trust the national government endows us,” Sinarimbo said.

The additional financing from the World Bank which is about P1.41-billion will help boost the parallel efforts of the regional and national government to develop the ARMM communities affected by conflict, Gonzales said.

It will run for three years with two components: The community development assistance and the institutional strengthening and governance, she said.

"The ASFP is adopting the community demand-driven approach in its implementation of World Bank-funded projects in ARMM areas such as the 596 villages identified as beneficiaries," Gonzales added.

Foreign institutions including the World Bank have been assisting the ASFP, and as of December 2009, the CDA component completed 1,661 community-based infrastructure sub-projects out of 1,723 target units.

The CDA component turned over 1,370 sub-projects to proponent local government units (barangay and municipal levels) and line agencies ARMM.

The ASFP, under its strategic regional infrastructure component, completed 13 sub-projects which included information and communication technology community research centers for district hospitals and ports in the five ARMM component provinces, Gonzales added.

The Japan International Cooperation Agency is also assisting the ASFP, through which it has completed three of seven SRI projects that are slated for turnover to recipient hospitals in ARMM, she said.

ASFP projects are also assisted by the Australian Agency for International Development, which has already served more than 3,000 children under various components of the Basic Education Assistance in Mindanao, Gonzales said. (Ali Macabalang)

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