28 April 2021
  • climate security
  • Philippines

Climate Security Practice Spotlight – Kauswagan From Arms to Farms Project

The insurgency of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has been running in the Lanao del Norte province of the Philippines since the 1970s and is only now seems to be winding to a close following the 2016 peace agreement. The underlying causes of the conflict stemmed from both the marginalisation of Muslims in the majority Catholic Philippines as well as poverty and food security. A study has suggested that climatic variation in rainfall in the Philippines impacts agricultural production so that food insecurity makes it easier for MILF to recruit during poor harvests. As such, the potential for more conflict is inherent in worsening climate change.

To address this issue Kauswagan municipality in 2010 began implementing a programme to fight the root causes of the conflict. From arms to farms is a programme which helps to integrate former combatants into society by training them in agricultural methods. This also helps to address the food insecurity situation in the area. This was complemented with so called Peace Path workshops that sought to restore trust between different groups in the community. So far, the community has seen a significant reduction in poverty and former combatants have been successfully reintegrated into society.

It is my deepest belief that tensions between population groups always stem from hunger and poverty

- Rommel Arnado, Mayor of Kauswagan municipality

Now that a peace agreement has been signed, the programme will help to ensure that the conditions for peace remain and there is no relapse into conflict. The approach taken in Kauswagan has been awarded the 2016 UCLG Peace Prize and other municipalities in the Philippines with other insurgencies are now trying to replicate it. This Climate Security Practice shows the need to address the root causes of a conflict in order to sustain lasting peace.

Access our compilation of climate security practices here

Watch a short video on the project here

Read a short interview with the mayor (In Dutch) here

Photo Credit: Risingthermals/ Flickr