P1-B fresh fund set for EU, Germany-supported Mindanao peace, economic program

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A P1-billion peace program backed by the European Union (EU) and German government was launched last week, targeting to benefit marginalized sectors, including smallholder farmers and fisherfolk in Mindanao.

The four-year project, called SPADe or Strengthening the Implementation of Regional and Local Peace and Development Agendas in Mindanao, will support plans set out by the peace and economic councils across six regions.

“Special attention will be given to vulnerable and marginalized groups such as smallholder farmers and fisher folk, indigenous peoples, internally displaced people, women, and youth,” according to a statement released Friday by the European External Action Service, the EU’s diplomatic service.

EU Ambassador Luc Veron said the project “is consistent with our EU vision, which calls for an integrated approach to conflicts, supports state and societal resilience, addresses extreme poverty, inequality and chronic fragility.”

“Building on our past and current engagements… by investing in improved social cohesion and resilience of communities and by creating economic opportunities, we will contribute to peace,” Mr. Veron said during the launch ceremony.

SPADe is part of the Mindanao Peace and Development Programme (MinPAD RISE), intended to contribute to inclusive economic growth in the country’s southern area.

MinPAD RISE initially received a EUR35.5 grant, or about P2 billion, in June 2020.

The SPADe program will be implemented by the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) and the Department of Interior and Local Government, with support from German development agency GIZ GmbH.

“Germany remains committed to contributing to the comprehensive efforts of the peace-building process in Mindanao by providing substantial funding and experts,” German Ambassador to the Philippines Anke Reiffenstuel said.

Undersecretary Janet M. Lopoz, executive director of MinDA which is also the implementing agency of MinPAD RISE, said it is important to complement “the different initiatives” relating to peace and economic development.

SPADe will focus on farm and fishery value chain development and investment promotion, strengthening cooperatives and small enterprises, promotion of good governance among local units, natural resources management, and empowerment of vulnerable groups.

“To reach its socio-economic objectives, the project will promote climate-smart agricultural value chains and improve the services of agricultural cooperatives to their members,” the statement said. — Marifi S. Jara