Youth, Livelihood, and Women Empowerment
for Lasting Peace in Mindanao

The German Embassy in the Philippines, together with its implementing partner  organizations, continue to support sustainable peace-building in Mindanao. This takes place  through several projects that employ an inclusive approach in various sectors.  

“We are convinced that a successful and inclusive peace process will increase prosperity  and social cohesion not only in the Philippines, but also in this highly inter-connected region,”  German Ambassador to the Philippines Anke Reiffenstuel said. Advocating for peace and  stability worldwide is a core priority for Germany. “We are aiming at expanding our  partnerships with the Philippines, knowing that the Indo-Pacific region is of growing  relevance in the political as well as economic sphere.”  

Working with the Philippine government and non-governmental organizations (NGOs),  Germany is currently providing more than two billion pesos in direct support. Germany’s  projects include building institutions in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim  Mindanao (BARMM), reintegrating former combatants into society, and empowering key  stakeholders such as women, the youth, and indigenous people.  

Germany’s strong commitment to sustainable peace and growth in the region is translated  to well-planned and properly funded projects on the ground. “We are partnering with around  70 different organizations implementing projects funded by Germany in Mindanao. In our 

view, the peace process can only be successful if all stakeholders are actively involved in it  from early on,” added Ambassador Reiffenstuel.  

Germany is also providing financial support for projects in key sectors such as land rights,  disaster risk reduction, health, human rights, climate change, and livelihood – especially in  agriculture. 

Keeping the youth from violence 

One such project is the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit’s (GIZ)  Youth for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence in Mindanao (YOUCAP). In partnership with  the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation, and Unity (OPAPRU), the  project aims to empower the youth and keep them from being involved in armed conflict.  

YOUCAP actively works with Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) officials in four local governments  in Regions X and XIII to develop conflict-, gender-, and culturally-sensitive Local Youth  Development Plans (LYDP). These plans were drafted during trainings involving 120 SK  officials and youth representatives and cover about 100,000 young Filipinos – 21,500 of  them classified as vulnerable.  

GIZ Country Director Immanuel Gebhardt hopes that such projects will continue to give the  youth hope and resilience and help keep them away from armed conflict. “The plan is to give  them stability and as a result, when they have a stable life, they have hope for life,” he said.  “Having a reliable income for their families helps alleviate feelings of frustration.” 

Most people who get involved in armed conflict do so out of frustration and lack of support  and perspectives. YOUCAP aims to show the youth in Mindanao that life away from conflict  is a better, more stable option. “I think the world needs stability – it’s the only way people  can enjoy prosperity.”  

Gebhardt also stressed the importance of caring about what’s happening in conflict areas.  “Right now, in most parts of Mindanao, we don’t need to be afraid of bombs – terrorists are  not currently attacking us. Nevertheless, this destabilization leads to prosperity loss. So  instead of economic growth, there’s an economic slowdown,” he said, adding that it’s the  civilians who suffer greatly in any war.  

Sustainable livelihoods 

The GIZ also implements a project line called DeveloPPP aided by the German Federal  Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). DeveloPPP is implemented in  several parts of the world, promoting partnerships with the private sector that can provide  entrepreneurial opportunities to beneficiary communities.  

In Mindanao, one of the major sectors assisted by DeveloPPP projects is agriculture,  particularly coffee farming. While the Philippines has a long history of growing coffee,  production is on the decline despite rising demand. Coffee farming takes place in rural areas  with high poverty rates, hampering improvement and modernization of farming methods and  techniques.  

GIZ has partnered with Nestlé Philippines to address the problem, particularly in Mindanao.  Nestlé brings in their strong agri-services team and technical expertise while GIZ helps in  training and capacity-building for farmers’ groups. “We help the farmers produce a better  crop through education which – of course – is also in the interest of companies like Nestlé,”  Gebhardt explained. “Harvesting better crop leads to a secure and continuous supply of  coffee for companies and more revenue for the coffee farmers in Mindanao which helps  them get out of poverty.” 

So far, 1,565 coffee farmers in Bukidnon and Sultan Kudarat have been trained. From producing only 235 kilograms of coffee per hectare in 2018, they saw a 133.62% increase in their harvest by 2020 at 549 kilograms per hectare.  

Giving women a platform  

Empowering women is also at the forefront of Germany’s priorities in Mindanao. The  German Foreign Federal Foreign Office is working with Relief International (RI) on a new  project called Women Engaged in Responsive Solutions to Conflicts and Violence in  Mindanao (We-RESOLVE).  

The project, which started last September 15, aims to increase the participation of  Bangsamoro women in their own communities while providing them with livelihood  opportunities. “This will engage women leaders in conflict resolution, allowing them to be at  the forefront of establishing Communities of Peace in selected areas in Maguindanao and  Lanao del Sur,” shared RI Program Manager Norma ‘Bing’ Constantino.  

The project conducts workshops to equip local government units (LGUs), women-led civil society organisations (CSOs), community members, and other stakeholders with the skills to develop better gender and development plans. They are also implementing activities that promote peace that, in turn, support of the creation of Peace Communities.  

We-RESOLVE will also improve women’s economic conditions in conflict-prone areas  through livelihood support for 40 CSOs, creating links between peace and socio-economic  empowerment of women through resilient enterprises. The project is now implemented in  eight municipalities, involving 40 barangays in BARMM. 

Sustainable progress and peace  

“During my trips to Mindanao, I have always been impressed by the well-structured approach  and concept of the projects our partner organizations are implementing,” Ambassador  Reiffenstuel said, noting that sustainability in German-funded projects is something that they  are proud of. After all, lasting peace in the region is the goal and while short-lived benefits  are good, ensuring the welfare of BARMM’s residents for the long term is of utmost  importance.

  

“Overall, sustainability can be achieved through close coordination with Philippine authorities, between German implementing partners as well as international donors,” the Ambassador explained. In coordination meetings, Germany and its partner organizations identify synergies between national  development goals and the projects, building up on them to ensure their lasting effects. She added that stakeholders are involved early on, particularly women in their peace-building role.  

There’s much to be done but as a committed partner of the Philippines, the Ambassador  assures that Germany will be there to support peace-building efforts every step of the way.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.