Poverty Reduction Blog Tag: Philippines
Posted on May 29, 2014 by M. Thomas Duggan, Peace Corps Response Volunteer
This story is cross-posted on the Peace Corps Passport blog.
In December 2013, after three immeasurably rewarding years serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Philippines, I closed my service. I thought it was time for a healthy dose of rest and reflection, but I found rest impossible. Just a few weeks earlier, the country I had come to care so deeply about had been ravaged by Typhoon Haiyan, and I found the idea of leaving my newest friends behind in such a time of need completely unfathomable. So two weeks after ending one form of Peace Corps service, I began another when I was sworn into the Peace Corps Response program to assist with the rehabilitation efforts being made by the Millennium Challenge Corporation.
Since signing the Compact in 2010, MCC’s five-year, $434 million compact has been providing the Philippines with financial assistance for several projects, including one to train select communities in a variety of disciplines related to development. One of the three projects is the $120 million Kalahi-CIDDS community-driven development project. In this project, after various social preparation activities where communities assess and prioritize their greatest need and develop a proposal for a sub-project to address that need, the community puts their new knowledge into practice by designing and implementing a project, usually a small, basic infrastructure project, depending on their development priorities. This can be anything from a farm to market road or a rural health center, to a three-classroom school building. On the morning of November 8, 2013, Haiyan severely damaged the fruits of so many communities’ learning and labors.
My current role is to help guide and inform the process behind MCC’s rehabilitation of these essential community facilities. By utilizing my educational background in visual arts, my camera equipment, and the knowledge of local dialects and geography that I acquired during my three years of Peace Corps service, I can capture the experiences of Filipinos and share it with those who need to understand the damage and the incredible resilience of the affected people.
For every perceived win, there is at least one challenge to complement it and vice versa. Instead of hand-washing my laundry outside of my bamboo hut, I was wearing a headlamp inside of a cramped, electricity-free hotel room. My daily commute is no longer a few minutes on a bicycle; now it’s five-hour van rides to different islands or two-hour hikes in tropical heat to remote communities where people, who know nothing about me other than that I am trying to help rebuild their children's school, display rare, unheard of forms of kindness. After hours of teeth-grinding efforts to translate sentence after sentence of a survivor’s interview, I can play it from the beginning and hear a full story of perseverance, familial compassion and hope.
I hope that MCC will be able to use my documentation as a tool to rebuild infrastructure and support communities following calamities. In the process, I know that I am learning more about the power of photography. Images have the power to illustrate people's needs, to be a tool in the generation and distribution of aide, to provide voices for those who need most to be heard but don't have a soapbox from which to speak. As a result of my experience, I vowed here to dedicate myself to sharing stories and hope in this way.
Posted on March 6, 2014 by Cassandra Q. Butts, Senior Advisor
Gender is one of MCC’s top priorities and for good reason. Creating better opportunities for women and girls is not only the right thing to do—a core value we share with our partner countries across the globe—but also because inequality can stifle a country’s fight to lift its people out of poverty.
My role at MCC is in part to prioritize MCC's gender work to ensure that women and men are equal beneficiaries at the forefront of our approach to development.
On March 8—International Women’s Day—MCC is partnering with Devex and other development leaders on a month-long campaign called She Builds that highlights the role women play in building communities, economies, innovations, and the future.
Together, we will unveil a series of stories and videos of women who have seen their lives change through gender inclusion projects, as well as profiles and interviews of female Millennium Challenge Account CEOs who are leading the charge in implementing MCC-funded programs. From Burkina Faso and Cabo Verde to the Philippines and beyond, these stories will describe how our partnerships are making a positive impact across the world.
We’re also excited about our participation in the White House Council on Women and Girls’ celebration of Women’s History Month, which will highlight some of our achievements in ensuring women and girls benefit from our projects.
But that’s not all. Today, MCC is presenting the latest issue of Milestones, which focuses on our approach to gender. And later this month, I will be sharing my experiences from a recent trip to Malawi.
MCC’s gender investments are paying off, and I am proud of the strides we have made toward greater gender equality. Together with our partner countries, we are helping ensure a better future for all by standing up for women and girls.
Keep checking mcc.gov throughout March to read more about MCC’s progress on advancing gender equality.
Posted on November 18, 2013 by Matt Bohn, Philippines Resident Country Director
On November 8, Typhoon Haiyan made landfall in the Philippines and devastated several areas, including Leyte and Samar, where MCC is funding projects through its $434 million compact.
I joined a team from the U.S. Embassy that flew to the city of Tacloban last week to assess the scale of the damage and see where we could help. As we surveyed the area around the airport, I was able to see firsthand the true scale of the devastation wrought by one of the most powerful storms on record.
The devastation was unimaginable and heartbreaking. Many villages in Eastern Visayas—particularly along the coast—have been flattened, resulting in staggering losses of human life and possessions. Cities and villages in Leyte and Samar were unprepared for winds that reached more than 150 mph and a 10-15-foot storm surge that leveled homes and buildings where the local population sought refuge.
It is truly a shocking tragedy with profound human impact. However, in the depth of this human tragedy, the goodness and resilience of the Filipino people, the Philippine government, the U.S. Government, and the international community are rising above it all. I am in awe as I witness the rapid and large-scale international relief effort underway with the U.S. Government and U.S. military playing lead roles in coordinating and delivering relief supplies, medical assistance and basic services to affected communities.
I’m also grateful that MCC-funded contractors were able to join the relief effort by quickly clearing an important 222-kilometer road segment in Samar, currently under construction through our compact, so relief supplies can get through to remote villages in some of the hardest-hit areas. I also was heartened to learn that some of the MCC-funded Kalahi-CIDDS schools and day-care centers were used as shelters to protect individuals and families during the storm.
MCC’s compact with the Philippines will now take on even greater significance in the affected areas, particularly in Leyte and Samar. MCC-funded infrastructure such as roads, schools, day-care centers, health stations, and water systems will contribute to the long-term reconstruction and prosperity of the region.
The humanitarian response of the United States provides a beacon of good news amid the fog of wreckage. And while the damage left by Haiyan is difficult to describe, my MCA-Philippines colleague Andy Saracho said it best: “We are wounded. We are down. But as a nation, we will rise again.”
Posted on March 1, 2012 by Cassandra Q. Butts, Senior Advisor
Grade school students and teachers of the Bacjao Elementary School in Balangiga, Samar welcome MCC and MCA-Philippines teams on February 28, 2012. The public school is a recipient of two classrooms from the KALAHI-CIDSS project implemented by the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
I was in the province of Leyte in the Philippines on Tuesday to witness the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding by the municipality of Alang-Alang to begin participating in an innovative approach to development called Kalahi-CIDSS, which is included in the country’s MCC compact. Kalahi-CIDSS is a community-based approach to development that makes beneficiaries active participants in the selection, design and implementation of development projects that they believe are best for their communities.
While Kalahi-CIDSS isn't original to MCC—the program originally was funded in the Philippines by the World Bank—MCC's investment of $120 million will double the size and scale of the program and make it available to communities like Alang-Alang for the first time. MCC is also adding innovations in areas such as gender integration and environmental assessment, impact evaluation and engineering standards that will enhance the value of the program to beneficiaries as well as improve the sustainability of outcomes.
The hope is that Alang-Alang will find the same success with the program as the municipality of Balangiga experienced when it used Kalahi-CIDSS to build schools, a retaining wall to protect against typhoon flooding, a community road, and a bridge. Viscuso de Lira, the mayor of Balangiga, describes the Kalahi-CIDSS program as galvanizing community engagement in a way that had not been achieved before and building community support for sustaining projects that are the product of their own initiative and sweat equity.
MCC and the Millennium Challenge Account-Philippines are further using Kalahi-CIDSS to empower communities in a coordinated campaign against trafficking in persons, seeking to educate Kalahi-CIDSS communities as well as other communities impacted by our road project in the Samar region on preventing this global crime.
Kalahi-CIDSS is not only building and empowering communities but also promoting the principles of transparency and accountability in how development resources are used. This approach can be critical in improving local government at all levels of engagement.
Posted on September 24, 2010 by Daniel W. Yohannes, Chief Executive Officer
As world leaders gathered this week in New York City for the United Nations Summit on the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) and the United Nations General Assembly, MCC’s mission and work took center stage.
I listened to President Obama unveil the first-ever development policy issued by a U.S. president. His groundbreaking MDG Summit speech outlined development’s heightened role in U.S. global engagement as a strategic, economic, and moral imperative. The President emphasized that economic growth is the centerpiece of his new development policy, because growth is the fundamental force that will transform the developing world and eradicate poverty. He talked about empowering and partnering with countries committed to taking responsibility for their own development. And, he stressed that America’s development investments can have maximum impact in partner countries that set in place high standards of transparency, good governance, and accountability.
I am proud that MCC is already putting the President’s core development principles into practice, like investing in economic growth, promoting country-led development, demanding accountability, and focusing on transparency and results. MCC’s experiences have informed many aspects of the President’s new policy. We are integral to the policy moving forward by sharing what we have learned, including our leadership on rigorous evidence-based evaluations to drive policy decisions and ensure aid effectiveness.
The principles of effective development outlined in President Obama’s policy were repeated by the presidents and prime ministers from a number of partner countries I met with this week to discuss progress on the implementation of their MCC compacts. They spoke about reforming their policies, building homegrown capacity and more responsive institutions, and delivering the results their citizens expect. These themes were also featured at the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting. I was particularly struck by CGI’s emphasis on strengthening market-based solutions and empowering girls and women, which are also clear priorities for MCC’s work in partner countries worldwide and for achieving the economic growth underpinning the Obama administration’s global development policy.
Moreover, the President’s development policy embraces partnership as essential to success, and each MCC event in New York sought ways to mobilize the power of partnerships. I met President Benigno Aquino to sign a $434 million MCC compact with the Philippines. This compact will fight corruption by streamlining processes at the Bureau of Internal Review; strengthen local accountability through the Kalahi-CIDSS rural development program; and improve access to markets and community services through the construction and repair of 220 kilometers of Samar Road. The Philippines’s MCC compact is another example of how we partner with countries committed to sound political, economic, and social policies vital for sustainable development to deliver the progress and results the poor expect.
To further engage with the private sector as vital partners in development, Cape Verde’s Prime Minister José Maria Neves, the Executive Vice President and CEO of the International Finance Corporation Lars Thunell, and AES Corporation’s Global Chief Operating Officer Andres Gluski joined me in addressing a private sector gathering. These gentlemen shared their first-hand perspectives on the power of private enterprise to augment and accelerate public efforts to stimulate economic growth. Businesses, foundations, NGOs, and partner countries discussed strategies to align their activities with sustainable development objectives. One of my top priorities at MCC, like the President’s policy advocates, is to increase development impact by broadening our partnerships with the private sector and non-traditional actors, such as philanthropic foundations.
MCC also partnered with other leaders in the field for a breakfast roundtable on gender. The discussion was co-hosted with the White House Council on Women and Girls and highlighted ways we can effectively integrate gender equality in development plans to ensure long-term sustainability. We recognize that expanding opportunities for women and girls in developing communities reduces poverty. MCC Senior Advisor Cassandra Butts spoke more about MCC’s gender policy at a high-level luncheon with heads of state later that day.
Now, we will build upon the conversations, relationships, and partnerships we forged and deepened this week to further MCC’s mission. MCC’s policies, practices, and results will continue to contribute to President Obama’s vision for development and serve as critical building blocks for a new era of global poverty reduction and sustainable economic growth.
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