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UN body sets up markets, mobile stores in Marawi

The United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) has started to roll out satellite markets and mobile stores in Marawi City as part of its three-month initiative to help the devastated city fight the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

In a press statement Wednesday, the humanitarian arm of the UN said the markets help bring the basic goods closer to the residents of the city which, for two years starting in 2017, suffered both human and property losses as a result of the invasion of an extremist group.

The intervention, explained Christopher Rollo, UN Habitat country programme manager, is part of the Rebuilding Marawi through Community-driven Shelter and Livelihood which has partnered with other groups in helping the city recover from the devastation brought about by the armed conflict.

“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 as the short-term intervention provides the initial inventory, logistical and other support for the stores so that these expenses will not be passed on to customers and that they get the cheaper possible processes for these goods.

Provincial Director Mohammad A. A. Mamainte of the Ministry of Trade, Investment and Tourism of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao said the markets and stores will help residents of the city cope with the onslaught of the pandemic as, just like any other part of the country, their movements have been restricted.

“We cannot really quantify how helpful this initiative is to the communities – in this time of crisis the tendency is for prices to increase, products become more expensive,” said Mamainte

The project, which is funded by the UN-Habitat Global Emergency Response Fund, has helped especially those residents of villages who are far from the center of the city, said Marawi City Vice Mayor Anduar M. Abdulrauf.

”This is a huge help at this time when public transportation is limited. UN-Habitat has been there for Marawi even right after the siege especially for the construction of shelters for the internally displaced families,” said Abdulrauf.

Under this projects, two satellite markets have started operating as they serve about 2,000 families that have been living in transitory sites of Sagonsongan and Boganga, while stories have also been deployed in 10 other villages that are far from the city centers.

To make the mobile stores possible, UN Habitat has tapped cooperatives and homeowners associations that it has assisted as these groups have used their vehicles fort he stores that sell basic needs like rice, vegetables and other necessities.

As these markets have been drawing buyers, quarantine protocols have also been implemented, like wearing of face masks, stepping on foot baths and observing of physical distancing. Also installed in the markets and other areas of the city are hand-washing facilities.

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