Zamboanga City in the western part of the Philippine island of Mindanao is home to a population composed of several ethno-linguistic groups, including Muslims, Christians and indigenous people. It has been the refuge of many evacuees coming from the neighbouring provinces, where there are high rates of social and political insecurity.
In 2013, Zamboanga City was plunged into conflict pitting military troops against a faction of the Moro National Liberation Front in a siege that lasted 20 days. At least 200 civilians were killed in the fighting. Around 10,000 homes were destroyed, villages were razed and around 120,000 people displaced, mainly Muslims. The war devastated the social and economic fabric of the region and its residents still suffer the consequences three years later.
Thousands are still displaced and live in temporary shelters around in the area. The problem has been exacerbated by chronic insecurity and climate cycles that threaten food security and the availability of clean drinking water. Many in temporary accommodation still lack water and sanitation and livelihoods have been severely affected.
Katilingban Para Sa Kalambuan, Inc. (KKI), is a community development organisation that has been working in the area for the last 20 years. It promotes democratic participation and good governance, children’s rights and youth development, access to basic social services, economic security, sustainable agriculture and a culture of peace.
KKI works to socially and economically empower displaced people fleeing conflict. It helps educate communities on how to promote better and more equitable governance, helping them to plan and implement programs, and access resources and services, to transform them into self-reliant, self-sufficient, self-governing organisations. It trains local women on primary health care and helps communities establish pre-schools. It also supports selected families with land and resources.
KKI has a strong advocacy programme which works to promote the rights of children and youth, conducting workshops and individual mentoring for young people. The highly complex and sensitive context in which it operates makes KKI’s work both needed and highly regarded by local government officials and other organisations. In 2015, KKI reached 275 children.
Photo: Alvin Dacanay