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USAID renews inclusive dev’t commitment for Bohol

“The U.S. government shares the determination of the Government of the Philippines to continuously enhance the quality of education in the country,” said USAID General Counsel John Simpkins during the handover of the teaching and learning materials at the Tagbilaran City Central Elementary School. After the turnover, Simpkins did a read along with the school’s Grade 2 students.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) General Counsel John Simpkins visited the province of Bohol January 26-27 to renew the U.S. government’s commitment to the province’s inclusive and sustainable development.

Simpkins joined Bohol officials, led by Governor Edgar Chatto and Tagbilaran City Mayor John Geesnell Yap II, to launch the Stakeholders’ Forum, which was organized by the U.S. Embassy Manila’s USAID through its Strengthening Urban Resilience for Growth with Equity (SURGE) Project.

United States Agency for International Development General Counsel John Simpkins (2nd from right) visited Bohol January 26-27 to renew the US government’s commitment to the province’s inclusive and sustainable development. Governor Edgar Chatto (center left) and Tagbilaran City Mayor John Geesnell Yap II (2nd from left) presented the keys to the province and city to Mr. Simpkins. They were joined by (center) Mr. Eddie Borja, Tagbilaran City Administrator and Randy Ali, USAID/Philippines Resident Legal Officer.

United States Agency for International Development General Counsel John Simpkins (2nd from right) visited Bohol January 26-27 to renew the US government’s commitment to the province’s inclusive and sustainable development. Governor Edgar Chatto (center left) and Tagbilaran City Mayor John Geesnell Yap II (2nd from left) presented the keys to the province and city to Mr. Simpkins. They were joined by (center) Mr. Eddie Borja, Tagbilaran City Administrator and Randy Ali, USAID/Philippines Resident Legal Officer.

SURGE is the flagship activity of USAID’s Cities Development Initiative (CDI), which aims to transform secondary cities into engines of growth. Tagbilaran is one of the CDI partner cities, together with Batangas, Cagayan de Oro, Iloilo, Puerto Princesa, and Zamboanga.

Launched in 2015, SURGE supports these cities to become economically thriving and resilient growth centers outside the urban core of Manila, with increased levels of investment, employment, and disaster risk preparedness for the city and adjacent rural areas.

Representatives from national agencies, local governments, businesses, and civil society attended the forum, where they identified and prioritized SURGE activities for Tagbilaran city.

During the event,  Simpkins witnessed the signing of four partnership agreements. “Today marks an important milestone for the province of Bohol and the city of Tagbilaran, as we witness the forging of partnerships that will improve the local economy’s competitiveness and overall development,” said Mr. Simpkins.

Following the event, Simpkins visited Tagbilaran City Elementary School, where he handed out learning materials to Grade 2 students on behalf of the American people and led a reading activity for the children. In his interaction with school administrators and faculty, he reiterated the U.S. government’s commitment to help improve the reading skills of students.

Through its basic education program, Basa Pilipinas, USAID is working to improve the reading skills of one million early grade students by strengthening reading instruction for teachers and increasing access to quality reading materials.

Capping  Simpkin’s trip was a meeting with local stakeholders to discuss maritime law implementation in Danajon Reef at the Balicasag Marine Protected Area. USAID, through its Ecosystems Improved for Sustainable Fisheries (ECOFISH) activity, supports the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources and Bohol Province to protect its coastal and marine resources. Mr. Simpkins praised the innovative approach undertaken by government officials and the communities to protect and preserve its natural resources.

USAID is the lead US government agency that works to end extreme global poverty and enable resilient, democratic societies to realize their potential. In the Philippines, USAID partners with the national government to create a more stable, prosperous, and well-governed nation.