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The Development for Peace in Sulu (DPIS) project was created in mid-2002 in the war torn Sulu Province in Muslim Mindanao by Asia America Initiative, as a model for grassroots development to establish sustainable peace in an area plagued by conflict and terror. Authorized by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao Governor Paruk Hussin, the DPIS is credited for helping to stabilize health and education systems in the provincial capitol of Jolo and has inspired hope for social and economic development. In 2003, DPIS received a Presidential Citation for success in delivering over $2 million medical supplies and $1 million in educational assistance to help local leaders revitalize the poverty-stricken community. Since mid-2004, the DPIS Education Component has been additionally supported by grants from the U.S. Congress and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). In 2005, AAI was designated as a 밚ead Organization?in USAID뭩 innovative Educational Quality and Access for learning and Livelihood Skills (EQUALLs) consortium in Muslim Mindanao.

Sulu is one of the most impoverished provinces in the Philippines, with a school drop-out rate of around 65 percent and desperately sub-standard health and living conditions. Decades of armed conflict have been perpetuated by the isolation and poverty of the province's inhabitants. As a result, Sulu has become a founding home and breading ground for the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the bin Laden-connected Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).

PEACE MEDIATION: AAI's Development for Peace project has helped build peace in the city of Jolo by providing hope through assisting community leaders and professionals to improve health, education and livelihood development. In addition, the AAI is currently assisting local officials in offering assistance to fighters of the Moro National Liberation Front [MNLF] to enter the mainstream of society through assistance with housing, livelihood training and opportunities, as well as educational and housing assistance for their families. The AAI has also bridged the cultural gap between various cultures and religions in the region by bringing people of varying backgrounds together to work for the benefit of the community. The AAI's Development for Peace project has contributed to sustaining peace in the city of Jolo and surrounding communities by:

- Assisting health, education and livelihood development

- Partnering with local and national officials to offer assistance to fighters of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) to enter mainstream society

- Encouraging people of varying cultural and religious backgrounds to work together for the benefit of the community

EDUCATION: The AAI is revitalizing the educational system in Sulu through:

- Providing educational equipment and supplies to a dozen "model" public schools

- Training teachers and school administrators

- Providing learning and information technology, such as computers and educational television

- Initiating programs such as the Adopt a Classroom project, which links individuals from other parts of the Philippines and the United States to contribute educational materials and friendship.

HEALTH: Since the AAI's first visit in 2002, when the province lacked all basic medical supplies, the AAI has provided over $3 million in urgently needed medicines and medical equipment to hospitals and school clinics. Our presence inspired the confidence of other donors who turned the regional hospital into a viable full service institution by:

- Creating a new wing of the hospital, essentially doubling its size

- Building a conference hall for continued training

- Providing infant and maternity care

LIVELIHOOD: The AAI's unique livelihood development program integrates public education with building a grassroots economic infrastructure. Accomplishments include:

- A home-grown fisheries processing and canning business at the Jolo Fisheries High School

- A poultry farm at the agricultural high school

- An adult women's literacy and livelihood program

- A handicrafts co-op for students at Mindanao State University is being developed

- Plans to expand the National Fisheries technology development center in Dagupan

The unique approach of the Development for Peace project is based on consistent interpersonal relationships with residents in a community that has endured generations of armed conflict. The Development for Peace in Sulu builds hope and deters violence through joint effort with local NGO partners, American private foundations and corporations, logistics support by the Philippine armed forces, as well as a grant from the U.S. Congress through the USAID."This project," says AAI President, Al Santoli, "builds trust between cultures and encourages residents - especially the youth -- to resist exploitation by violent organizations."

Project Date/Time

6/11/2002 3:00 PM to 1/30/2011 3:00 PM


Mindanao, Philippines

Project Type


Children and Youth, Community Building and Reneewal, Economic Development, Health and Medicine, Health, Mental, Peace, War, and Conflict Resolution, Poverty and Hunger, Social Enterprise and Economic Development
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Organization: Asia America Initiative

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"VISION TO DREAM, STRENGTH TO ACT, COURAGE TO PERSEVERE" Asia America Initiative is an international non-profit organization based in Washington, DC with an extension branch in Manilla, Philippines that is dedicated to building peace, stability, and self-sustainability in confl
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