Rehabilitating Marawi City, like widespread poverty, will be the one of the biggest challenges facing the government.
Images of the war-torn city splashed on the front pages of newspapers and television channels show the extent of the damage inflicted by extremists on the predominantly Muslim capital.
Marawi City must rise from the ashes, but reconstructing it will require massive funding through an integrated approach. Certainly, as President Rodrigo Duterte conceded, P50 billion will not be enough to rebuild the city.
The World Bank, foreign governments and other multilateral financing institutions this early have pledged billions of dollars to rebuild Marawi and restore order in the city. The bank sees Marawi’s reconstruction as a development task that parallels its early efforts right after World War II.
One also cannot isolate Marawi’s rehabilitation from the current efforts to develop the whole of Mindanao island. Marawi is an integral part of Mindanao, which itself has suffered from government neglect for several decades. Any reconstruction job on Marawi will ultimately involve the entire Mindanao.
The World Bank, for one, is committing multi-million dollar loans to fund projects for agriculture and education in Mindanao. Beyond the physical rehabilitation of Marawi City and Mindanao, the bank committed to focus its funding to support the government’s program to raise agricultural productivity and improve connectivity from farm to market, boost education, skills, and employability of the youth, and help build resilient communities.
Creating job opportunities and providing education will be the key to Marawi’s reconstruction efforts and Mindanao’s development. Poverty and lack of education have driven part of Mindanao’s population to join the rebellion in the island or sympathize with the cause of Muslim extremists.
Infrastructure projects like roads, bridges and airports will also be critical in the development of Mindanao and the rehabilitation of Marawi. Farmers and fishermen must be given access to sell their crops and harvests to the urban cities.
All reconstruction and development efforts must be inclusive to bring about progress and peace in the neglected south.
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