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To date, the GEM Program has constructed more than 1,000 “BIPs” in 180 municipalities in 21 provinces and 13 cities in Mindanao, in partnership with local governments.
Although relatively simple and small in scale, these barangay infrastructures have provided direct benefits to more than a million residents in the region, appreciably improving the quality of life and economic wellbeing of their communities.
They are helping Mindanao’s farmers to improve production, and to transport goods more efficiently and reach markets more easily. They provide safer and quicker access to schools, workplaces, and medical and government services.
“I lived in Bunao for 50 years and there never was a time when the area didn’t flood. Whenever it rained heavily, floods were sure to follow,” said Mandaya Dimasangkay, a community elder in Bunao, a barangay in Tupi, South Cotabato.
In 2007, the GEM Program constructed a BIP barangay bridge in Bunao. The structure doubles as a culvert, helping to direct water flow and provide access for residents.
“Since then, we have not experienced any flooding, even during the rainy season,” said Dimasangkay. “My children and grandchildren together with other farmers here are very thankful. We have better crops now.”
According to a 2009 guide on economic growth published by USAID, a key activity for development agencies in the post-conflict period is to “reduce physical obstacles and eliminate barriers to movement and commerce, particularly for rural and agricultural markets.”