We know the impact of violence can last generations. We also know that people can be affected by repeated cycles of conflict and instability. The result is that the poor get poorer and become less resilient to further shocks, whether natural or man-made.
A new report, Violent Conflicts and Displacement in Central Mindanao: Challenges for recovery and development (available at www.worldbank.org/ph ), looks at vulnerability in some of the most conflict-affected areas of southern Philippines. A joint initiative between the World Bank’s State and Peacebuilding Fund and the World Food Programme, it examines people’s experience of conflict and the effect of violence on their daily lives.
The results provide, I believe, some of the most extensive and detailed insights into local needs and concerns for almost a decade. You can find our data and analysis at www.emindanao.org/conflict-and-displacement  and judge for yourself.
How bad did things get?
In the Philippines, it has been the people of Central Mindanao that have had the worst experiences of violent conflict. “All Out War” in 2000 and hostilities in 2008 each led to the displacement of nearly a million individuals. Repeated bouts of conflict and forced displacement have hit poor communities hard.
The World Bank-WFP survey shows that:
- Four in every ten households had experienced displacement between 2000 and 2010. As many as one in ten had been forced to leave their homes five times during the decade. In the province of Maguindanao, as many as 82 percent reported experiencing displacement in that time.
- Across virtually every key indicator – from food security to access to services, income poverty to housing – displacement is shown to be detrimental to livelihoods, welfare and social cohesion.
- The impact of displacement does not end when people return home. Returned households were almost as vulnerable as those who were still displaced at the time of the survey, and their problems of food insecurity, income poverty and poor access to services were almost as severe.
What is it like now?
Going well beyond the usual profiling and needs assessment of IDPs, the study also provides a window onto the extent and patterns of vulnerability in the surveyed areas at the time of the study.
The data shows a concentration of problems in the provinces of Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, particularly in Maguindanao where people reported the highest exposure to violence and suffered the worst poverty, food insecurity and access to services.
Whether your interest is in how people access services, perceive their own safety, participate in community development or view the efforts to build peace, there is information in the study for you.
For me, however, it is the gaps in access to clean water and sanitation that stand out, particularly for people in the provinces of ARMM. For example:
- People in Lanao del Sur have the worst access to safe drinking water and sanitation. 40% relied on lakes, ponds and rivers. 13% relied on open wells. Maguindanao also scored poorly.
- Water supply is a major issue in Tawi Tawi, where 16% used a lake or river, 14% an open dug well and as many as 38% relied on rainwater.
- Sanitation is particularly poor in the ARMM provinces. 40% of families in Maguindanao and 28% in Lanao del Sur do not use toilets, compared to a survey average of 18% in Central Mindanao.62% of families in Tawi Tawi and 42% in Basilan use open pits, compared to an average of 6% in Central Mindanao.
These figures argue for a rapid, extensive and concerted response by government and its partners in this field. In my next post I'll discuss what are the next steps to be taken in order to address this.
Meanwhile, what's your view on the effect of conflict on livelihoods? Are you familiar with Mindanao or with other areas that have also suffered from long-term conflict situations? Let me know.