‘Big Brotherhood’ makes WB aid effective

The ‘big brother, small brother’ relationship between the provincial and the municipal governments has made the implementation of the Department of Agriculture – Mindanao Rural Development Program (DA-MRDP) effective, World Bank official said.
WB senior operations officer Carolina F. Geron described this relationship as helping one another, particularly poor towns, to better serve their communities. 
“In this way, the provincial government helps its towns to effectively implement various interventions it (town) employs on the ground,” Geron said.
Geron, who is also the MRDP Task team leader, heads the current three-week WB review mission which kicked-off early last week here to assess how the program fared in its goals set early this year after an 18-month hiatus.
Meanwhile, in a recent separate statement, WB acting director Maryse Gautier said the Philippines needs a provincial development strategy (PDS) to address the need for coordination among local government units (LGU) in the implementation of foreign-funded projects.
“A PDS could help address key issues in governance, capacity building and coordination,” Gautier said. 
MRDP, an $83 million long term poverty alleviation program jointly funded by the national government, the local government unit and the World Bank, is geared at increasing incomes and uplifting lives of the poorest of the poor in rural Mindanao . It covers 225 towns in Mindanao ’s 26 provinces.
Lesson learned
The MRDP deputy director said that the experience in the first phase of the program, one province intervened with the municipal implementation of the infrastructure project since it had difficulty in completing the said project.
“With the strong partnership of the provincial and municipal governments all projects have been completed in the first phase. This is among the lessons we learned in our over seven years of implementing development projects around Mindanao ,” De Mesa said.
De Mesa added that there are a number of towns that experienced technical and even financial adversity. “Convergence of their efforts ensures the proper delivery of services to the community,” he added.
MRDP was approved in 2007, but it was only in December 2008 when it started to roll out its targeted projects due to the counterparting policy.
The program applies 50-50 cost-sharing where half of the project cost is shouldered by the LGU and the other half is given as grant by the program.
“Some LGUs find it difficult to source out from their local coffers the fifty percent counterpart. As strategy, municipal local chief executives ask the provincial government to help put up the required cash equity,” De Mesa said.
In Sarangani province, the fifty percent equity is shared by the provincial government and the town recipient of MRDP projects.
“The provincial government, as big brother to its towns, shares 70 percent of its fifty percent counter part making it easier for small brother to come up with its cash value equity,” De Mesa cited one example.
“We are thankful to our governor, Migz Dominguez, for his generosity in helping us in Malapatan, a fourth class municipality, to come up with our counterpart for our farm-to-market road,” Mayor Aida Singcoy said in a separate interview.
“To extend more help to the community, governor Dominguez also distributed corn seeds which encouraged our farmers to expand their production,” the mayor added.
Meanwhile, the fifth class town of San Isidro , Davao del Norte has sourced out its funding equity from the RDR WHEELS project of Governor Rodolfo Del Rosario.
San Isidro mayor Tomas Abelita said that without the provincial counterpart it would have been impossible for them to come up with the farm-to-market road which is needed in his locality.
“We are the cacao capital of the country, but we cannot improve our production without infrastructural support to our farmers. Although a little difficult, I really pushed to have a farm-to-market road project to help our local farmers,” mayor Abelita said.
Geron, in a recent forum, said she is expecting technical, even financial, assistance of the 26 “big brothers” to the 225 “small brothers” who are at the forefront of the MRDP implementation to capitalize on the bulk of funds which have been readied since 2007.
“With this complementation, we want to see five to seven more years from now that communities are able to eat three square meals a day and their incomes improved,” Geron said.
Further, De Mesa added that this early this convergence has resulted in tangible gains in terms of fortifying peace and development across Mindanao . Sherwin B. Manual