COTABATO CITY – In a joint initiative, the Republic of Korea, through the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the Bangsamoro Government launched a $5-million project to strengthen community resilience and crucial services for children, adolescents, and women in conflict-affected and remote areas in the region.
Entitled: “Supporting Peacebuilding through Strengthening Essential Services for Vulnerable Children and Adolescents in Maguindanao and Cotabato City, BARMM,” the project was officially launched here on Thursday, November 16.
According to Carlos Vasquez, officer-in-charge of UNICEF Mindanao Field Office, the project will be implemented until January 2027, backed by a total funding of 5.95 million US dollars or equivalent to 332 million pesos.
“The project will directly benefit more than 280,000 people, including children, pregnant and lactating women, youth, and other adolescents,” said Vasquez.
He said that KOICA, as a partner and donor, shares the vision of a progressive and child-friendly child-centered Bangsamoro, where children thrive and survive.
Eunsub Kim, KOICA country director, added that the project’s focus areas include improving health and nutrition services; enhancing the quality of early childhood education and alternative learning system; ensuring access to basic water, sanitation, ang hygiene services; establishing a child protection system; and strengthening local governance and humanitarian peace building development.
“Furthermore, it aims to create an environment where every child will have the opportunity to reach their full potential,” Kim added.
He said the Maguindanao and Cotabato City both have faced various challenges and suffered from the negative effects of conflict, displacement, and limited access to essential services.
“Given these circumstances, it is our shared responsibility to address these issues and work towards a more promising future for the children of this region,” Kim stressed.
The country director further emphasized that peaceful communities ensures that no child is left behind and that every child has the opportunity to pursue their goals in life, regardless of their background or circumstances.
For his part, Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim expressed the Bangsamoro Government’s commitment to the successful implementation of the project in the provinces of Maguindanao and in Cotabato City.
“I am hopeful that we can also implement this project in other provinces and areas of the BARMM,” Ebrahim added.
He underscored that the regional government’s commitment to the project is a testament to their unwavering belief in the power of compassion, unity, resilience, and peace.
“The impact we create today will amplify through generations sowing the seeds of peace and development. As we continue writing our narrative, we look forward to seeing that this endeavor with UNICEF and KOICA will be beacon of hope and a testament to our collective commitment to a brighter future and a more peaceful Bangsamoro,” the chief minister said.
BARMM Assistant Senior Minister Abdullah Cusain took the lead in striking the ceremonial gong, officially inaugurating the project. Following the launch was a press conference presided over by KOICA Country Director Eunsub Kim, UNICEF Philippines Representative Oyunsaikhan Dendevnorov, BARMM Social Services Minister Atty. Raissa Jajurie. (Jho Kusain/BIO)