Sustaining the peace: EU-UNDP project helps transform six camps into productive communities

May 8, 2024


The European Union (EU) in the Philippines and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in the Philippines continue to bolster the transition and transformation of previously-acknowledged Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) camps into peaceful and productive communities. In March 2024, ten cooperatives across six major camps — Abubakr, Badre, Omar, Bilal, Bushra, and Rajahmuda — received agriculture-based livelihood support from the Programme on Assistance for Camp Transformation through Inclusion, Violence Prevention, and Economic Empowerment (PROACTIVE), a project co-funded by EU and UNDP. Of these, eight cooperatives received farm machinery with farm implements (six tractors and two combine harvesters), benefiting 466 individuals (350 male and 116 female members) who are mostly decommissioned combatants and their next of kin. Meanwhile, in Camp Abubakr, two female-led cooperatives received support for climate-smart agriculture subprojects on fish and vegetable production.

With the handover of the different livelihood support coinciding with the 10th anniversary of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), members of the cooperatives shared their gratitude and hope, seeing it as a significant progress towards the promise of normalization. Amidst the series of commemoration activities, they reflect on their past struggles as they transition to civilian life.



Abubakar G. Akmad, or Bob, was a member of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF)-MILF who had to leave his family during the war. During the ceasefire, he had to work abroad to find a job and provide for his family. “During the all-out war, I spent most of my time on the battlefield than with my family,” he said.

Coming back and remaining committed to the Bangsamoro struggle, Bob is among the active community leaders in their village working to help in the current development and transformation of the camps. He is a member of the Sitio Malabaw Agriculture Cooperative, a group of farmers in Brgy. Sifaran who are among the recipients of the farm machinery from PROACTIVE.

“I joined and founded the cooperative hoping that it might provide us with more opportunities and access to assistance from government and non-government agencies,” he said. “We are happy for the support as the tractor is what our community needs considering the current conditions of the land, and this also indicates that we are not lagging or being left behind in the implementation of the peace process.”



Meanwhile, Mondingan Kagui Kabasalan, a 71-year old widow from Brgy. Kilangan, Pagalungan, recalled how their lives changed due to famine and war as she navigated the struggle of being the wife of a mujahideen or warrior. She is now fondly called Babu Ina ni Gunda. “Babu” is the Maguindanaon term for an elderly woman, while “Ina ni” means “mother of”.

“Instead of taking care of laundry, education, and leisure time for my children, I was battling to secure my kids from famine and war. It was hard for us mothers being evacuees, especially with children,” Babu Ina ni Gunda shared.

As peace and development continue to progress in their communities, Babu Ina ni Gunda has also taken an active role in her family and community as the matriarch to her ten children and 20 grandchildren. Her grandson was among the members of the Sustainable Farmers Agriculture Association in their village. She actively participated in community meetings and showed eagerness to learn new topics, especially about livelihood. It was during this time that she decided to join and become a member of the cooperative, one of the recipients of livelihood support from the project.

“We are happy and grateful for this support. If you look around our community, farming is what we do best. The farm tractor will be of great help. It is timely as it rained today. Tomorrow, the tractor will be immediately put to work,” she added.

Bob and Babu Ina ni Gunda are among the decommissioned combatants and their next of kin who were provided with livelihood support. Additionally, they also underwent capacity-building activities to strengthen their organizational capacity through Operations and Maintenance, Marketing, Strategy, Financial Management, and Values Transformation Training, in partnership with the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA). To date, PROACTIVE has provided livelihood support to 21 cooperatives as part of a larger EU assistance package for BARMM on normalization, specifically through its Mindanao Peace and Development Program-Peace and Development in the BARMM (MINPAD-PD BARMM).