MARAWI CITY, Lanao del Sur, June 29 (PIA) – The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) distributed close to 3,000 sacks of rice and containers of palmoline oil to farmers in South Upi town in Maguindanao province, one of the towns in the region severely hit by drought.
The distribution is under the Food-for-Work program implemented by the region’s humanitarian and emergency action response team in partnership with the United Nations World Food Programme (UN-WFP). ARMM Executive Secretary lawyer Laisa Alamia and UN-WFP Program Officer Michael Argonza led the food distribution on 28 June.
“This is just the first batch of assistance in the three barangays in South Upi that include Barangay Biarong, Lamud and Bongo, we will also implement this program in other barangays,” Atty. Alamia said.
The food-for-work program is only one response in the ARMM action plan for areas recently hit by El Niño phenomenon as well as areas expected to suffer from La Niña, which is now felt in various parts of Mindanao. The ARMM government has earmarked P7 million for the food-for-work program in South Upi alone.
Under the program, Atty. Alamia said, the government hires target beneficiaries in planting root crops and in cleaning up drainage canals and other infrastructures. Each beneficiary will be paid each month one sack of rice and palmoline oil.
The farmers will receive the assistance for three months and they will get the bulk of harvest (from the farms they planted with crops), Atty. Alamia said. She also reiterated that her office will continue to monitor the progress of the program.
Among the beneficiaries is Jonjie Leon, a 22-year old farmer, who expressed his gratitude for the aid. “Malaki po talaga tulong ng programang ito para sa amin, minsan po kasi sa pagsasaka walang kasiguraduahan kung may maiuuwi kami sa aming pamilya, pero sa ganitong klaseng programa sigurado po na may makakain ang pamilya ko araw-araw (This program helps us a lot since there is no assurance if our regular harvest would be enough to feed our family on a daily basis),” Leon said.
Prior to the food distribution, the UN-WFP already provided the same assistance in three barangays namely Barangay Looy, Romangaob and Kuya.
“With the help of the ARMM government, we send assistance to different barangays in South Upi not only to help mitigate the effects of drought but also in preparation for the impact of La Niña,” Argonza said.
Atty. Alamia said they will strengthen the disaster risk reduction management councils in all the municipalities that are severely affected by El Niño and those that would be affected by La Niña. (BPI-ARMM/APB/PIA-10)