Amid high hopes for peace, USAID scales back Mindanao program

Philippine government officials and foreign dignitaries witness the signing of the framework agreement between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. USAID Philippines Mission Director Gloria Steele confirmed that the U.S. aid agency has set in motion plans to aggressively scale back its Mindanao program. Photo by: Prachatai / CC BY-NC-ND

The Philippines’ second-largest bilateral donor, the U.S. Agency for International Development has pumped upward of $500 million in development aid to Mindanao over the past decade — a massive assistance effort that has been part and parcel of the U.S. government’s counterterrorism and stabilization strategy in the Philippines’ conflict-ridden southern region.

Against the backdrop of the recent signing of a historic peace agreement between the Philippine government and Mindanao’s largest Muslim insurgency group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, USAID Philippines Mission Director Gloria Steele confirmed in a video interview with Devex that the U.S. aid agency has set in motion plans to aggressively scale back its Mindanao program.

USAID will now direct only 10 percent of its Philippine budget to Mindanao — a drastic decline from the 60 percent share in previous years. The U.S. aid agency’s decision was first spelled out, but little noticed, in its 2012-2016 country development cooperation strategy for the Philippines.

In this video interview with Devex Senior Analyst Lorenzo Piccio, USAID Philippines Mission Director Gloria Steele explains why her mission has decided to slash the share of its budget directed to Mindanao from 60 percent to 10 percent.

In explaining USAID’s decision to downsize its Mindanao program, Steele stressed that her mission needs more flexibility to align its resources with the Philippine government’s ambitious development agenda. The Aquino administration’s pro-growth and anti-corruption reforms are widely credited with reviving the Philippines’ development prospects.

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About the author

  • Piccio

    Lorenzo Piccio

    Lorenzo is a contributing analyst for Devex. Previously Devex's senior analyst for development finance in Manila, he is currently an MA candidate in international economics and international development at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington. Lorenzo holds a bachelor's degree in government and social studies from Wesleyan University.