By Roy Mabasa
The United States government has awarded a total of 75 micro-grants amounting to P19.5 million to communities and business owners displaced from the war-ravaged Marawi as part of its commitment to improving the economic and social conditions of communities directly affected by the 2017 Marawi siege.
U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Acting Mission Director Patrick Wesner and Task Force Bangon Marawi Field Office Manager Assistant Secretary Felix Castro jointly visited Marawi and Iligan on June 11 and led the handover of the grants.
In a statement, the USAID said the micro-grants, each valued at P260,000, is aimed to assist displaced families as they restart their livelihoods and small businesses. It will also help host communities build small-scale infrastructure and convene community events critical to the recovery.
In a message during the handover event, Wesner said the U.S. government, in partnership with the Philippine government, is a “committed friend, partner, and ally supporting your journey to recovery.”
On top of the financial grants, the grantees will receive livelihood training and capacity building to bolster their efforts.
The program is part of the Php1.35 billion three-year USAID’s Marawi Response Project which supports the economic recovery and social cohesion of displaced and host communities in Marawi, Lanao Del Sur, Lanao Del Norte, and Iligan.
Lanao Del Sur’s Sangguniang Kabataan Federation President Jeff Saro Adiong joined Wesner and Castor in distributing the micro-grants in Marawi City.
One of the recipients, Niki Macaraob of the Kangiginawae Ko Masa organization, explained, “Malaking tulong ang dressmaking package na aming matatanggap sa aming pangkabuhayan [The dressmaking assistance that we will receive will make a lot of difference to our livelihood].” His group will participate in a dressmaking training program.
In Iligan City, the USAID collaborated with the Bangon Marawi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BMCCI), in distributing the micro-grants. BMCCI is an association of entrepreneurs displaced from the most affected area of Marawi.
Nasser R. Hadji Salic, a recipient of a business micro-grant, said, “Bukod sa kanilang grant assistance program ay mahalaga ang mga training nila para maging sustainable ang aming mga negosyo [In addition to the U.S. government’s grant assistance program, their training activities are critical in ensuring the sustainability of our businesses].”
In 2018, the US government also launched the Php3.2 billion (US$59.1 million) Marawi Response Project as part of its commitment to the humanitarian and recovery work in and around Marawi.
The said project is in partnership with Plan International and is supported by local organizations such as Ecosystems Work for Essential Benefits, Inc. and the Maranao People Development Center, Inc.