BUTUAN City, PH—GIZ’s work in promoting peace and development in the conflict-affected Mindanao region in southern Philippines was the focus of the recent visit here of Joachim Prey, head of GIZ’s Asia, Latin America and Caribbean Department, and Michael Weiss, GIZ’s Philippines country manager. They were accompanied by Irina Scheffmann, GIZ Philippines and Pacific country director.
The officials heard from the GIZ teams on the ground and from their local government partners how they work together with civic organizations and communities, including communities of indigenous peoples (IPs), to develop local capacities to better address conflicts, and to mainstream conflict-sensitive management of natural resources, which are among the main causes of contention in the region.
With the support of GIZ, the Civil Peace Service, and their partners, local stakeholders, for example, have come up with the Caraga Roadmap for Peace (link below), which is a first in the Philippines. Conflict-sensitive and peace-promoting planning is now mainstreamed and applied in several land use and development plans in municipalities, communities, and ancestral domains. In addition, IPs in the Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary, a globally significant protected area in the region, earn more from products sustainably produced with indigenous resources. Their traditional practices for conserving biodiversity have been featured by the Secretariat of the Ramsar Convention (the international agreement on wetland conservation) in their latest publication.
The visitors also participated in a drone flying session to demonstrate GIZ’s training of local government personnel on the use of the technology to cost-effectively survey the management of natural resources, and enjoyed sampling the sweet-sour fruit jam sustainably produced by IPs with GIZ support.
Further presented was how GIZ works with the government, the academe, and civil society organizations to improve assistance to internally displaced people in their home and host communities. Special attention was given to the Civil Peace Service program in Mindanao, which helps non-governmental organizations to promote conflict transformation.
The officials also took the opportunity to learn about security and risk management in the GIZ office and to open a dialogue with GIZ’s national personnel in the region to learn more about their day-to-day work, challenges, and lessons learned in working for peace and development in Mindanao.
*This story can also be accessed here.