23 July 2020, Marawi City, Philippines –Twelve homeowners associations (HOAs) composed of internally displaced people (IDPs) of Marawi City signed a Project Partnership Agreement with the 55th Engineer Brigade of the Philippine Army for site development and construction of 50 permanent shelter units in Barangay Kilala, Marawi City.

Since 2018, UN-Habitat Philippines has been implementing a post-conflict shelter rehabilitation project in Marawi City for thousands of individuals displaced by a 5-month armed conflict in 2017. The Japan-funded Rebuilding Marawi through Community-Driven Shelter and Livelihood project is a remarkable example of collaboration to provide homes and capacity-building opportunities to IDPs through a participatory and partnership-oriented process. The 55th Engineer Brigade is a valuable addition to the roster of government partners helping UN-Habitat rebuild homes in Marawi City. Other partners include the National Housing Authority (NHA), the Social Housing Finance Corporation (SHFC), the Islamic City Government of Marawi, and the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD).

The 12 HOAs and the 55th Engineer Brigade will jointly spearhead the site development and construction of fifty (50) permanent shelter units in Barangay Kilala, Marawi City on .70 hectares of land provided by the NHA. Each shelter unit is a one-story structure and will be constructed on a 90-square meter lot, concrete with steel frame, with a total floor area of 46 square meters. It will include a toilet and kitchen and will come with electrical and plumbing system.

Lieutenant General Cirilito Sobejana, Commander of the Western Mindanao Command, voiced the commitment of the Armed Forces to the project. He also emphasized the importance of cooperation. “[If] all the agencies of the government and local government units will take part in doing their respective functions, we will leave no gaps and address all the things that [need] to be addressed. We also encourage the communities to take part… we have to [follow] the whole-of-the-nation approach,” he said.

Janodin Lao, the president of the An-Nusrat Homeowners Association, speaking on behalf of the 12 HOAs at the partnership-signing expressed the significance of the new alliance:

“Ang kawalan ng lupa ang nakapagpabagal sa pagpapatayo ng mga bahay. Pero ngayon, sa likod ng mahabang paghihintay, ay may ilang lupa na pwedeng pagpatayuan… Itong partnership namin with the Philippine Army at ng 55th Engineer Brigade ay isang hakbang para mas mabilis na maipatayo na ang mga bahay namin. Sila ay may tao at mga equipment na pwedeng makatulong sa amin.”

(“The unavailability of land slowed down the building of our permanent houses. But now, after a long wait, there are already several sites where we can build… Our partnership with the 55th Engineer Brigade is a step to hasten the construction of our houses. They have the people and the equipment that can help us.”)

Because finding available lands in post-conflict Marawi has been a challenge, the shelter construction component of the Rebuilding Marawi project experienced some delays. The HOAs’ initiative to tap the 55th Engineer Brigade is therefore expected to help speed up shelter-building. Warren C. Ubongen, UN-Habitat Project Manager, explained:

“The HOAs under the Rebuilding Marawi Project had shown patience amidst all the challenges that the project face but also they have been actively working with UN-Habitat to find solutions on how we can overcome the various challenges. This partnership with the 55th Engineer Brigade is part of our efforts to fast-track the shelter construction now that there are available areas where we can actually build – an opportunity that was not present to us seven or six months ago. We have also adopted the steel frame technology to accelerate shelter construction – from the original 28 days down to 16 days construction work on the same house design, and at the same time adding to its structural durability.”

The project’s goal of constructing a total of 1,500 houses is more attainable with partners like the 55th Engineer Brigade. While shelter construction is just taking off, the project has already provided livelihood opportunities for the IDPs through 31 cooperatives engaging in various enterprises and businesses, such as transport service, water refilling station, printing shop, groceries, and rice wholesale and retailing, among others. Both the shelter and livelihood components of the Rebuilding Marawi project have progressed because of cooperation and participation from the government, private sector, NGOs, CSOs, homeowners associations, and volunteers.

A model unit in Brgy. Kilala, Marawi City. A total of 50 houses will be constructed under the HOAs-55th Engineer Brigade partnership.