The World Bank Group vowed to scale up support for peace-building and development in Mindanao as part of the midterm adjustment of its country partnership strategy.
This follows the completion of the Performance and Learning Review report (PLR) endorsed recently by the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors.
This scaled-up program for the entire Mindanao will focus on supporting the government’s program to raise agricultural productivity and improve connectivity from farm to market; boost education, skills, and employability of the youth; and help build resilient communities.
World Bank Group support to the conflict-affected region has been significant in recent years, leading to over 682,000 people benefiting from better infrastructure and access to jobs and initiatives that improve literacy.
“Mindanao accounts for 36 percent of all poverty in the Philippines and poverty is highest in areas affected by conflict. The World Bank Group fully supports the government’s focus on developing lagging regions, including in Marawi and surrounding areas,” Mara Warwick, World Bank Country Director for Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines, and Thailand, said.
“The World Bank, together with the Asian Development Bank, will coordinate financial assistance from the development partners for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Marawi City. Also, the World Bank will provide technical assistance for the early recovery, rehabilitation, and reconstruction planning for Marawi City as requested by government,” she said.
The partnership strategy for the Philippines will continue to work on five engagement areas, aligned with the development priorities of the government:
■ transparent and accountable government
■ empowerment of the poor and vulnerable
■ rapid, inclusive and sustained economic growth
■ resilience to climate change, environment, and disaster risk management
■ peace, institution building, and social and economic opportunity, with focus on conflict-affected areas in Mindanao.
“The strategy is built on our long-term partnership with the Philippine government, development partners, and other sectors of Philippine society,” said Victoria Kwakwa, World Bank Vice President for East Asia and the Pacific.
“We are pleased that our strategy shares several areas of priority with the government’s development plan, notably, promoting competitiveness, boosting rural development and strengthening resilience against climate change impacts,” she added.
Sustained growth averaging 4.6 percent between 2010 and 2016, along with well-targeted social sector spending, has contributed to significant recent poverty reduction in the country.
The government more than doubled social services spending during this time, enabling significant allocations for health care and poverty reduction through the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), the national program providing conditional cash transfer, which is supported by the World Bank.
In the past two years, World Bank support has contributed to the government’s efforts to reduce poverty in the Philippines which include the following:
■ Nearly 10,000 new water connections have helped tens of thousands of people.
■ Some 300 kilometers of roads and nearly 2,000 meters of bridges have been built, improving connectivity.
■ More than 20,000 education officials have received training and are now equipped to train others in early grade reading and mathematics.
■ Approximately 2 million people – half of whom are women – benefitted from improved public services, including over 702,000 benefitting from cleaner, safer public markets and/or public terminals.
The midterm review of the strategy provides an opportunity to assess progress and lessons learned, and introduce revisions to its implementation, the World Bank said.
Following consultations with various stakeholders in Iloilo, Tuguegarao and Cotabato, the review finds that overall, key elements of the country partnership strategy remain relevant to the government’s Philippine Development Plan.
In 2018, World Bank Group support for the Philippines could reach $660 million and includes funding for the Metro Manila Flood Management Project, the first project in the Philippines planned for co-financing with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).
In 2019, total funding could reach $750 million, including projects for agriculture and education in Mindanao.
The World Bank Group will also continue to provide analytical and advisory services to address important development issues under its fiscal year 2018- 2019 program.