More than a year after the Marawi conflict ended, organizations working in the Marawi rehabilitation stressed the importance of promoting access to financial services and Islamic finance as part of the continuous recovery of families affected by the crisis.
The call was made during the culmination of the Financial Inclusion for the Recovery of Marawi (FIRM) project, which was held in Marawi City on November 28.
One of those who benefited from the FIRM project is Monera Candidato, a mother of 13 children from the Al Markazie Evacuation Center in Balo-i, Lanao del Norte.
Candidato said she was able to use the cash assistance she received as capital for her small business of selling firewood to fellow internally displaced persons (IDPs).
“If my child doesn’t have milk anymore or if my child needs fare to go to school, I sell firewood. Without the money I used for capital, we won’t have anything to sell and we won’t have anything to sustain us,” Candidato said.
The FIRM project aims to help IDPs from Marawi to meet their basic needs by restoring livelihoods and ensuring access to safe, transparent and Shariah-compliant financial services.
“By providing access to capital to fund small businesses, we help families affected by the Marawi crisis to rebuild their lives,” Oxfam in the Philippines Country Director Maria Rosario Felizco said.
The eight-month project has already provided access to financial services to a total of 17,000 families affected by the Marawi crisis, including 11,200 families who received cash grants which were safely and quickly disbursed through the Inclusive and Affordable Financial Facilities for Resilient and Developed Filipinos (iAFFORD) Card.
The iAFFORD card, which also serves as an identification card, allows families to save money, pay bills, and purchase food and other items at any Visa and PayMaya accredited stores nationwide.
It also allows families to access future assistance from government and aid agencies.
Aside from cash assistance, the FIRM project also conducted financial literacy and Islamic finance orientation sessions to families affected by the Marawi crisis.
“With our shared vision of financial inclusion particularly in the most vulnerable and underserved areas of the country, we are glad to enable the people of Marawi with a tool that can help them build resilience and financial independence to make their family’s future brighter,” said Kenneth Palacios, VP and Business Head for Wallets at PayMaya Philippines.
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Country Director Titon Mitra said financial inclusion during disasters will not stop with the project.
He urged IDPs to continue applying the skills they learned, and share their new perspective on Islamic finance and responsible financial habits to help Marawi recover.
Data show that an estimated 93-percent of cities and municipalities in the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), including Marawi City, which is the region’s center for trade and education, still have no access to banking institutions.
The FIRM project is jointly implemented by Oxfam in the Philippines, Initiatives for Dialogue and Empowerment through Alternative Legal Services (IDEALS), People’s Disaster Risk Reduction Network (PDRRN), Al-Mujadilah Development Foundation (AMDF), PayMaya Philippines, Smart Padala and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) through the support of the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (UN CERF