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UN agency brings basic goods to Marawi City folk on COVID-19 lockdown

Volunteers sell vegetables at a satellite market in Marawi City. —PHOTO FROM UN-HABITAT

DAVAO CITY—The United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) has opened satellite markets and rolled out mobile stores in Marawi City under a three-month campaign to protect residents from COVID-19.

In a statement on Wednesday (May 20), UN-Habitat said the campaign would bring basic commodities closer to residents, who are still struggling to rebuild their lives after Marawi’s main commercial center was devastated by war between Islamic State fighters and government soldiers three years ago.

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Christopher Rollo, UN Habitat country programme manager, said the current initiative is part of the agency’s “Rebuilding Marawi through Community-driven Shelter and Livelihood” project which partnered with local groups to help the city recover from the devastation.

The project is financed by the UN-Habitat’s Global Emergency Response Fund.

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“We aim for families to get the food and essential items they need at the lowest cost possible, at wholesale prices with no profit to UN-Habitat, while also eliminating transportation and other related costs when people have to go to markets,” said Rollo.

UN-Habitat provides supplies, transports these and gives other support to stores to keep expenses to a minimum and not pass these on to consumers, who are to get the lowest possible prices for the goods.

Mohammad A. Mamainte, provincial director of the Bangsamoro Trade Ministry, said the satellite markets and mobile stores would ease the burden of residents in buying basic needs during COVID-19 lockdown.

“We cannot really quantify how helpful this initiative is to the communities,” Mamainte said.

“In this time of crisis, the tendency is for prices to increase. Products become more expensive,” Mamainte said.

Marawi City Vice Mayor Anduar M. Abdulrauf said the stores will benefit especially residents of remote villages, who are having difficulty traveling to other places because of the continued suspension of public transportation.

Under the project, two satellite markets are set up in transitory shelter sites of Sagonsongan and Boganga villages, serving at least 2,000 families.

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Mobile stores are also deployed to 10 other villages that are far from the city center.

UN-Habitat tapped cooperatives and homeowners’ associations, many of which it had helped, to operate the mobile stores, mindful of basic quarantine guidelines of social distancing, wearing of face masks and provision of foot baths.

In the satellite markets, UN-Habitat has installed hand-washing facilities.

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