NEW HOUSES. A family displaced by the 2017 Marawi siege in their new community at Marawi Resettlement Site Phase 1: Hadiya Village, Barangay Dulay West. A total of 109 permanent houses constructed by the UN Habitat were inaugurated in the area last February 2021. (Photo courtesy of UN-Habitat)

MANILA – A total of 1,000 permanent houses were awarded to Marawi residents as the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) caps its housing project in the city on Thursday.

The Rebuilding Marawi Project, funded by the Japanese government, started four years ago to support internally displaced families affected by the 2017 siege with the last 462 houses awarded during a handover event Thursday (May 19).

The houses were built on land procured and developed by Social Housing Finance Corporation (SHFC) and National Housing Authority (NHA) through a USD10 million funding given by Japan.

Prior to the siege, the 1,000 families lived within the three to six meters easement along the Agus River and Lake Lanao -- areas officially categorized by the government as "no dwell zone" and others that were affected by the development projects within the post-war ground zero/most affected area.

With their houses destroyed by the gun battle between the government forces and pro-ISIS militants, life for the 1,000 families in the past four years since the war ended was spent in tents, transitory shelters, and temporary homes within Marawi or nearby provinces, the UN Philippines said.

Others went as far as Manila to find sources of income as the war destroyed not only their homes but devastated their businesses as well.

“We and our partners are truly honored to be part of this rebuilding process. The Rebuilding Marawi Project demonstrates that adequate housing is at the center of sustainable development because having an adequate home empowers a family to satisfy its basic needs while providing the space to dream, engage in gainful livelihood, commune with neighbors, and become communities of peace,” said UN-Habitat Country Programme Manager Christopher Rollo, who delivered the message of UN-Habitat Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific Atsushi Koresawa.

Oling Manalao, who spoke on behalf of the families, extended their gratitude to the UN-Habitat, saying the initiative not only helped construct their homes but also regain their confidence through the training, meetings, and coaching of the project included.

"Thank you for the livelihood projects that did not just benefit the home partners but also helped so many people directly and indirectly, through the 82 different kinds of livelihood projects that our Cooperatives managed. Our deepest gratitude goes to the People of Japan who generously provided us the means to start anew, for making it possible for us to rebuild with dignity,” Manalao said.

Families previously awarded the permanent houses are now living in their new communities, such as the Marawi Resettlement Site (MRS) Phase 1 in Barangay Dulay West and MRS Phase II in Darussalam Village, Barangay Dulay Proper.

Some 500 permanent houses were also turned over last July 22, 2021 in Barangay Mipantao-Gadongan and another 250 in Barangay Kilala from October 2021 to March 3, 2022.

The 438 of the 462 families awarded during the handover event on Thursday will soon be transferring to their houses in MRS Phase III in Norsalam Village, Brgy. Patani -- all three lands procured and developed by the Social Housing Finance Corporation.

Twenty-four houses of the 462 awarded houses, meanwhile, are located at the local government unit of Marawi property in Barangay Patani. (PNA)