Marawi City, the Philippines, 2 August 2021 – Rocma Imam Dumamba still remembers the five-hour walk she and her family endured as they fled Tuca Marinaut, their village in what is officially known as the Islamic City of Marawi, the morning after the siege started on 23 May 2017.

There was heavy traffic going out of city; vehicles loaded with people and their belongings, pedestrians scrambling out of the city with what possession they could carry. Everyone thought the fighting will last only two to three days.

Dumamba’s family did not own a vehicle so, like the rest of the evacuees, they resorted to travelling 38 km by foot to the Municipality of Kapai, northeast of Marawi, where they sought refuge in the house of relatives.

What was of primary importance at that time, as gunshots were exchanged, was to get out of Marawi alive,” said the 63-year-old. “Even if our house and the stuff we left behind were burnt to the ground, I am very grateful that we now have a house we can call our own. My husband is critically ill and could only eat through a tube – it will do him good to live here – this is where he can recuperate.”

Dumamba and her husband are one of the 170 families who, thanks to a UN-Habitat project and USD 10 million aid from the Japanese government, have moved into newly built houses in resettlement sites located in Dulay Proper and Mipantao Gadonga, two barangays (villages) 3-5 km outside the city proper, four years after clashes between government forces and pro-ISIS militiamen destroyed their old domiciles.   

Of the total of 170 new houses, 120 were built in Darussalam Village in Dulay Proper on land acquired and developed by Social Housing Finance Corporation (SHFC) while the remaining 50 houses were constructed on the sprawling land area of Pamayandeg Ranaw Residences at Dansalan in Barangay Mipantao Gadongan through land provided and developed by National Housing Authority (NHA).

The families received the certificates to their new residences earlier this month in a ceremony attended by UN-Habitat Country Programme Manager Christopher E. Rollo; Duardo D. del Rosario, head of the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD); SHCF President Arnolfo Ricardo Cabling; and Majul U. Gandamra, mayor of Marawi City.

“We hope that these houses will honour the sacrifice of our partners (who suffered from the conflict), who did not passively wait but were active partners in the building of their houses, livelihoods and communities, amidst the many challenges including the Covid-19 pandemic. Together with other project partners, we are committed to support the rebuilding of resilient and sustainable communities and improve people’s lives,” UN-Habitat’s Rollo said during the ceremony.

In his video message, Japanese Ambassador Koshikawa Kazuhiko thanked UN-Habitat and government partners, and reiterated his country’s support for Marawi.

“We still have some ways to go in Marawi as we continue to work on delivering homes for the displaced people. Nevertheless, it is with great hope that through this project, Mindanao will gain lasting peace and stability that will propel it, and the Philippines, into a brighter future deserved by all,” the ambassador said.

In partnership with SHFC, UN-Habitat tuned over another 109 rebuilt houses in Marawi in February 2021, bringing the total number of houses constructed by UN-Habitat in the Marawi settlements to 279. In total, 1,057 houses are slated to be completed in 2021 in all project construction sites.

Other key partners for the reconstruction project are the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and Holcim Philippines through their sponsorship in the conduct of Galing Mason Skills Training for local workers who later participated in the project’s construction.

A formal partnership between UN-Habitat and Holcim Philippines enabled the project to purchase cement at a discount amidst the price hike of construction materials caused by the pandemic and increased demand due to the massive reconstruction of the city.