A TEAM from the World Bank (WB) is set to review the antipoverty program of the Department of Agriculture (DA) in Mindanao.

The WB will assess the impact of agricultural infrastructure, livelihoods, governance reform and environmental project implemented by of the Mindanao Rural Development Program (MRDP).

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Jointly funded by the World Bank, the national government and the local government units, MRDP is a five-year program geared toward uplifting the lives of the poorest of the poor in Mindanao by increasing income of farmers, capacitating women and indigenous peoples, and enhancing local governance and environmental protection.

The three week review mission kick-starts in Davao City on Wednesday, March 24 and regional consultation in the cities of Gen. Santos, Zamboanga, Cagayan de Oro and Butuan respectively will follow on ensuing weeks.

"MRDP is a package of investments which combines the infrastructure project and livelihoods, reforms on local governance and environmental conservation to create impressive impacts on poor rural communities," said program director Lealyn A. Ramos.

Now on its third year of implementation, MRDP reported to have accomplished P96 million worth of agricultural infrastructure of which close to 60 kilometers of farm-to-market roads have been established, 6 liner meter of bridge and two units of potable water systems erected serving over 600 households.

With the counterpart of beneficiaries, about P155 million worth of various agri-based livelihoods were created benefiting mostly women and Indigenous Peoples and P42 million had been invested for environmental conservation and protection.

WB task team leader for MRDP Carolina Figueroa-Geron will head the evaluating team together with various consultants. Geron is also the WB’s lead rural development specialist for rural development, natural resources and environment sector for East Asia and Pacific Region.

Ramos said the program has successfully overcome major bottlenecks in the past three years of implementation owing to stakeholders’ confidence in the program particularly the local government units (LGUs).

"With the strong dedication of the LGUs as lead implementers of the program, we have created jobs, we've opened opportunities and we have seen significant difference in the economic activities of rural Mindanao," Ramos added.