The Covid-19 Response in Marawi was launched on April 27, 2020 through the turnover of the first batch of PPEs and disinfectants for frontliners manning check points in the city and for cooperative members who will be manning the mobile markets, mobile stores, and sanitation facilities to be delivered by the response. Photo: UN-Habitat/Mark Padida

Marawi, 27 April 2020 – UN-Habitat officially launched Covid-19 Response As We Rebuild Marawi, an initiative being implemented in Marawi City and funded by the UN-Habitat Global Emergency Response Fund. Marking the launch of the initiative, the first batch of personal protective equipment (PPE) and disinfectant supplies was turned over to the city government.

While the impact of COVID-19 can be felt all over the Philippines, it is especially amplified in areas recovering from conflict, such as Marawi, where a siege by pro-ISIS militants against government forces broke out in May to October 2017, displacing thousands of families.

The three-month initiative, which falls under UN-Habitat’s global Covid-19 Response Plan, will be carried out in partnership with the city government, Task Force Bangon Marawi (a national government task force created specifically for post-conflict rehabilitation and recovery of Marawi), and the Marawi Sultanate League.

It will support 2,500 internally displaced families living in transitional sites in the barangays (villages) of Sagonsongan and Boganga, as well as other families there, local authorities, the Covid-19 Incident Command Center of Marawi, women, and youth, among others.

The initiative will involve the installation of permanent handwashing facilities and provision of disinfectant supplies in transitional shelter sites and distribution of personal protective equipment (PPEs) among displaced people living in these sites and among families in host barangays

It will also ensure the operation of satellite markets and mobile stores to facilitate easy access to food and basic necessities sold at subsidized/wholesale prices targeting vulnerable IDPs who receive small cash support from government and promote small-scale vegetable growing at household and community levels to increase food security.

Since the enhanced community quarantine was issued in March by both the city and province to deter COVID-19 transmission, most shops have closed, travel has been restricted, a curfew has been strictly enforced, and people have been ordered to stay home until the quarantine is lifted. Travel exemptions are granted only to essential service and goods providers and individuals going out on essential supply runs. Due to the closure of shops in many communities, people on supply runs would have to travel significant distances to the city center where markets remain open to get food and essentials; some may not be able to do so owing to unavailable public transit. The satellite market is designed to operate ad hoc by making produce and food available at  fixed locations in Sagonsongan ang Boganga, both at the city periphery, to people who would otherwise have to travel at least half an hour to the city center to buy them. The mobile stores—essentially stores on wheels—are small cargo vehicles that will ply remotely located neighborhoods and villages to sell food, produce, and other essentials.

Additionally, the initiative will also provide capacity development support to the local government through enhancement of its Incident Command System.

The Covid-19 response initiative complements UN-Habitat’s existing Japan-funded project, Rebuilding Marawi through Community-driven Shelter and Livelihood, by tapping the livelihood cooperatives organized under the project in the operation of the satellite markets and mobile stores. 

Marawi City Mayor Majul Gandamra, during project coordination talks, remarked that the satellite markets and mobile stores supported the call for minimizing the need of residents to venture out during the current lockdown by addressing food insecurity at the household level. He stressed the need for the initiative to help build capacities of the city government’s Incident Command System, particularly in pandemic response.

Sultan Nasser Sampaco of Marawi Sultanate League noted the timeliness of the project, given the month-long observance of Ramadan in Marawi, the country’s largest Islamic city, amid limited mobility resulting from government-mandated community quarantine.

TFBM Assistant-Secretary Felix Castro, Jr. sums it all up: “Solidarity is the key to beat the Covid-19 pandemic. The communities, the government, UN agencies, NGOs, and the private sector  must work together to prevent transmission. The support of UN-Habitat helps augment the programs of the government. As in the case of the mobile stores, instead of having people travel to buy food, UN-Habitat through their partner cooperatives will be coming to barangays to make sure people have that access to food and water.”

 “Solidarity is the key to beat the Covid-19 pandemic. The communities, the Government, UN agencies, NGOs, and the private sector must work together to prevent transmission,” said TFBM Assistant-Secretary Felix Castro Jr.

“The support of UN-Habitat helps augment the Government’s programmes. As in the case of the mobile stores, instead of having people travel to buy food, UN-Habitat through their partner cooperatives will be coming to barangays to make sure people have that access to food and water.”