Australia extends additional support to vulnerable families affected by COVID-19 in Mindanao

Australia is providing additional support through its partnership with Community and Family Services International (CFSI) for a COVID-19 response and recovery initiative for people displaced by the armed conflict in Marawi, along with locally stranded individuals affected by the pandemic. The PHP 106 million (AUD 2.99 million) contribution from the Australian Government for the Marawi COVID Recovery Project (MCRP) will help at least 4,000 families (around 20,000 people) restart lost livelihoods and recover from the impact of three major shocks – armed conflict, protracted displacement, and COVID-19.

“Australia has been a strong supporter of development, peace and stability in the southern Philippines for over 20 years. Our commitment to the people and the recovery of Marawi is steadfast, and this new project will assist the most vulnerable people in Mindanao who have been severely affected by prolonged displacement and by the socio-economic impacts of the pandemic,” said the Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Steven J. Robinson AO.

Under its Partnerships for Recovery program, Australia has redirected its development cooperation to reinforce the Philippine response to the pandemic. “Our partnership with CFSI will support families to recover from the impacts of COVID-19 and help foster inclusive and cohesive communities in the spirit of mateship and bayanihan,” said the Ambassador.

The Marawi COVID Recovery Project (MCRP) is an expansion of the previous Australia-CFSI partnership that provided livelihood support for those displaced by the Marawi conflict. The project will support the recovery of livelihoods that have been directly affected by the pandemic. It will also help facilitate birth registration and provide community rights awareness to prevent and address gender-based violence.

“Through this project we will contribute to improving the conditions for peace and stability in the conflict-affected areas of Mindanao,” said CFSI Executive Director Steven Muncy. The MCRP will be implemented by CFSI over 30 months from January 2021 through June 2023 in Marawi City and six other municipalities in Lanao del Sur province, in close partnerships with the local government.

Assistant Secretary Felix Castro Jr., Field Manager of the Task Force Bangon Marawi, and Marawi City Mayor Majul Gandamra welcomed the new assistance from Australia.

Castro said, “This project, which builds on previous partnership between the government, Australia and CFSI, will provide critical support to vulnerable families and help them recover from the multiple challenges of displacement which has been exacerbated by the pandemic.”

“This will be a big help,” said Gandamra. “Because of the pandemic, many people lost their jobs, and we are hopeful that this project will help more families to recover their livelihoods.”