Wednesday, June 19, 2013

ILO: Employment, livelihood crucial for peace in Mindanao

DECENT work and sustainable livelihood for some 1.3 million impoverished families in Mindanao is crucial to the government’s peace building efforts, the International Labor Organization (ILO) said.
ILO Philippines Director Lawrence Jeff Johnson made the statement at the signing of the agreement that seeks to create decent jobs for the poor families in conflict-affected provinces in Mindanao between the ILO and the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA).
Records indicate that the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) has the biggest number of vulnerable workers at 84 percent of those employed.
People living below the poverty line in the ARMM reached 1.39 million or more than 218,000 families.

“This is of great concern, as people are forced to accept whatever work is available in order to survive. They cannot lift themselves and their families out of poverty given their limited income, lack of access to social protection and social security. They are often found in dangerous and poor working conditions,” Johnson said.
He admitted that creating livelihood and decent jobs in local communities is still one of the serious challenges, especially in conflict-affected areas.
The agreement, “Program for Local Economic Development through Enhanced Governance and Grassroots Empowerment [PLEDGE] in ARMM” was signed by Johnson and BDA Executive Director Muhammad Yacob.
PLEDGE will operate in up to 12 target communities covering three towns in the ARMM. It is focused on on skills and enterprise development and job-creation programs in ARMM provinces in coordination with BDA.
Johnson said creating decent jobs should be an integral part of the government’s peace building efforts in the conflict-affected provinces in Mindanao.
The program puts in place project management and governance structures and will assign officials to be developed as local experts and trainers. The BDA will provide expertise on halal concepts and guidance in selecting communities and value chains with livelihood and entrepreneurship potential. It will also help ensure sustainability of joint efforts and initiatives.
Johnson said the ILO will provide managerial, technical and other resources to support activities including relevant tools. The ILO will also help in further building the capacity of BDA officials.
The BDA is mandated to become a leading social development agency and as such it will learn more on program design, implementation and assessment through close collaboration with the ILO team.
“The BDA has been partnering with key stakeholders and development institutions to fulfill its mission based on its mandate for the Bangsamoro people. The ILO’s support through the PLEDGE is another welcome development and opportunity. The BDA is appreciative of this new partnership and is very optimistic that PLEDGE will become a model livelihood program and will largely contribute to improving the living conditions of the Bangsamoro areas,” said Yacob.
PLEDGE is funded through the Mindanao Trust Fund administered by the World Bank. Major contributors to the fund include the World Bank, the governments of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Sweden and the US and the European Union.
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