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A stream of hope after the fighting: providing clean water in central Mindanao of the Philippines

16-04-2012 Feature

Armed conflict disrupts millions of lives every year. Central Mindanao in the Philippines is a tragic case in point. Violent clashes in the region pushed thousands of people off their land, leaving them homeless and impoverished. Supported amongst others by Swiss Re, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is working to improve their plight by providing clean water and sanitation facilities in a region that is only slowly re-emerging from the rubbles of the fighting.

When hostilities in Central Mindanao between the Philippine government and armed opposition factions finally ended in 2009, thousands of people were left without shelter, without any possessions or access to medical care. Despite the ceasefire, the situation remained fragile and the prospects for a lasting peace uncertain. Many of the region’s water supplies and sanitation facilities were destroyed and continued to be disrupted, adding health risks to the trauma of war.

The dire conditions in Central Mindanao motivated Swiss Re to support a project run by the ICRC, which aims to give local communities access to safe drinking water and efficient sanitation facilities. In close collaboration with the local authorities and the communities themselves, the ICRC is working to repair damaged infrastructure, enhance local water management and improve general hygiene practices.

Once fully implemented, the project will make safe water and sanitation facilities available to 45,000 civilians in conflict-affected villages and another 40,000 people displaced by violence or natural disaster. The project will also help improve living conditions in prisons for 10,000 detainees by providing adequate living and sleeping quarters, cooking facilities and health infrastructure.

The project forms part of Swiss Re’s global humanitarian and development program. It is Swiss Re’s first humanitarian engagement in the Philippines, a country highly exposed to natural catastrophes whose government is looking to adopt new risk financing instruments as part of its broader disaster risk reduction strategy.



Central Philippines, Eastern Visayas, Mabbini village. ICRC engineers are piping water from a next source to the village.


Philippines, Maguindanao province, Makir: ICRC assistance to displaced persons.