Financial inclusion helps families recover from Marawi crisis

MANILA More than a year after the Marawi conflict ended, organizations working for the Marawi rehabilitation stressed the importance of promoting access to financial services and Islamic finance, as part of the continuous recovery of families affected by the crisis.

The call was made during the culmination of the Financial Inclusion for the Recovery of Marawi (FIRM) project held in Marawi City on Nov. 28.

Oxfam, an international confederation of 20 independent charitable organizations focusing on poverty alleviation and founded in 1942, is a prime mover of the FIRM project.

One of those who benefited from the FIRM project is Monera Candidato, a mother of 13 children from the Al Markazie Evacuation Center in Balo-i, Lanao del Norte.

Candidato said she was able to use the cash assistance she received as capital for her small business of selling firewood to fellow internally displaced persons (IDPs).

If my child doesn't have milk anymore or if my child needs fare to go to school, I sell firewood. Without the money I used for capital, we won't have anything to sell and we won't have anything to sustain us, Candidato said in Filipino.

The FIRM project aims to help IDPs from Marawi meet their basic needs by restoring livelihoods and ensuring access to safe, transparent and Shariah-compliant financial services.

By providing access to capital to fund small businesses, we help families affected by the Marawi crisis to rebuild their lives, Oxfam in the Philippines Country Director Maria Rosario Felizco said in a statement.

The eight-month project has already provided access to financial services to a total of 17,000 families affected by the Marawi crisis, including 11,200 families, who received cash grants that were safely and quickly disbursed through the Inclusive and Affordable Financial Facilities for Resilient and Developed Filipinos (iAFFORD) Card.

The iAFFORD card, which also serves as an identification card, allows families to save money, pay bills, and purchase food and other items at any Visa and PayMaya accredited stores nationwide.

It also allows families to access future assistance from government and aid agencies.

Aside from cash assistance, the FIRM project also conducted financial literacy and Islamic finance orientation sessions to families affected by the Marawi crisis.

Source: Philippine News Agency