Marawi, the Philippines, 30 April 2020 – UN-Habitat launched its new initiative in Marawi City to support the City Government to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 and minimize the social and economic effects on residents.

The “COVID-19 Response as we rebuild Marawi” initiative is included in the UN-Habitat Global Emergency Response Fund. While the impact of COVID-19 is felt across the Philippines, it is  magnified in areas recovering from conflict, such as Marawi, where in 2017 a siege by militants against Government forces displaced thousands of families.

The three-month initiative is being implemented in partnership with the City Government, Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM), a national government task force created specifically for the post-conflict rehabilitation and recovery of Marawi, and the Marawi Sultanate League.

The initiative will support 2,500 internally displaced families living in transitional sites in the barangays (villages) of Sagonsongan and Boganga, as well as other families staying there, local authorities, the COVID-19 Incident Command Centre of Marawi, women and youth, among others.

The initiative will involve the installation of permanent handwashing facilities and provision of disinfectant supplies in transitional shelter sites and distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE) among displaced people living in these sites and among families in host barangays

It will bring in satellite markets and mobile stores to facilitate easy access to food and basic necessities sold at subsidized or wholesale prices. Due to the lockdown and closure of local shops, people travel significant distances to the city centre to find open markets if public transport is available. The satellite market makes produce available at fixed locations in Sagonsongan ang Boganga at the edge of the city. The mobile stores will travel between remote neighbourhoods and villages to sell food and other essentials.

Additionally, the initiative will also provide capacity development support to the local government through enhancement of its Incident Command System.

The initiative complements UN-Habitat’s existing Japan-funded project, “Rebuilding Marawi through Community-driven Shelter and Livelihood” by working with the livelihood cooperatives organized under the project in the operation of the satellite markets and mobile stores. 

At the launch of the initiative the first batch of personal protective equipment (PPE) and disinfectant supplies was handed over to the city government.

Marawi City Mayor Majul Gandamra, during project coordination talks, said that the satellite markets and mobile stores helped to minimize the need for residents to venture out during the current lockdown by addressing food insecurity at the household level. He stressed the need for the initiative to help build capacities of the City Government’s Incident Command System, particularly in pandemic response.

Sultan Nasser Sampaco of Marawi Sultanate League noted the timeliness of the project, given the month-long observance of Ramadan in Marawi, the country’s largest Islamic city, amid limited mobility resulting from government-mandated community quarantine.

 “Solidarity is the key to beat the Covid-19 pandemic. The communities, the Government, UN agencies, NGOs, and the private sector must work together to prevent transmission,” said TFBM Assistant-Secretary Felix Castro Jr.

“The support of UN-Habitat helps augment the Government’s programmes. As in the case of the mobile stores, instead of having people travel to buy food, UN-Habitat through their partner cooperatives will be coming to barangays to make sure people have that access to food and water.”