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ARMM Social Fund wraps up operation

After more than a decade of working to empower communities in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), the ARMM Social Fund Project (ASFP) has formally wrapped up its operation this year and turned over government properties and equipment under its care to the regional government last week.

Established in 2003, the ASFP was the biggest and only donor-assisted project directly managed by the ARMM government. It was funded through a government loan from the World Bank and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

With three major components - Community Development Assistance (CDA), Strategic Regional Infrastructure (SRI) and Institutional Strengthening and Governance (ISG) - the project was designed to empower ARMM communities through social and economic infrastructures, capacity building of community groups, social cohesion and partnerships, and improvement of local governance and institutional capacities.

It also aimed to strengthen and expand the role of the ARMM government in improving the quality and scope of public service, addressing the needs of conflict affected areas and poor communities.

The CDA component included livelihood support and food sufficiency programs that were implemented using the community-driven development (CDD) approach, a World Bank recommended mechanism that encourages recipient communities to identify and decide on the kind of assistance they need.

The SRI component included the construction and rehabilitation of development centers, base ports, hospitals and other important public infrastructures.

Abba Kuaman, outgoing ASFP project manager, said the project was designed to foster sustainable development through a support mechanism for the promotion of peace and a safe environment.

Kuaman led the formal-hand over of 9 units of vehicle, office equipment, project documents to lawyer Laisa Alamia, ARMM executive secretary at the open grounds fronting the Office of the Bangsamoro People, marking the end of ASFP’s 11 years of operation.

“The ASFP experience was a big challenge, but by using community development driven (CDD) method in program implementation, I say we had satisfactorily achieved our aim for projects that created impacts in the grassroots communities,” Kuaman said.

He also turned over 188 units of one-storey school buildings, with 317 classrooms, and 12 units of 2-storey school buildings constructed by ASFP to ARMM Education Secretary Jamar Kulayan.

Kulayan said the school buildings will benefit around 2,000 students.

The ASFP also brought forth best practices in the handling of projects in far-flung and depressed communities.

Alamia lauded the contributions of ASFP to the improvement of socio-economic conditions in the region and the best practices its management has introduced.

“From the ASFP experience, we get the best practices to implement other programs like ARMM Health Education, Livelihood Peace & Security and Synergy (HELPS), Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA) and the Bangsamoro Regional Inclusive Sustainable Development with Growth and Equity (ARMM-BRIDGE) program,” said Alamia.

Alamia endorsed the CDD approach as one of the most effective tools in successful program implementation. “We hope the new Bangsamoro government will adapt this kind of initiative, not just sustain it but advance it for the good of our people,” she said. (BPI-ARMM/APB/PIA-10)

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