Kauswagan’s “From Arms to Farms” Programme, Philippines

Municipality of Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte
Published: May 2019
Last edited: May 2019
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To achieve peace and stability, Kauswagan is addressing the root causes of conflict: food insecurity, poverty, hunger and inequalities. Kauswagan’s From Arms to Farms Programme turned the city from a territory disrupted by decades of war into a platform for sustainable agricultural development. Based on a broad participation of different actors, led by the Local Government Units and other support groups, the programme proved very successful by helping over 600 former combatants to reintegrate into society through farming and by decreasing the rate of poverty in the area to 40 per cent in 2016. The Arms to Farms programme shows that agroecology can be a powerful tool for radical and beneficial changes. For its achievements, Kauswagan’s programme was recognized with an Honourable Mention of the Future Policy Award 2018, awarded by the World Future Council in partnership with FAO and IFOAM – Organics International.


Southeast Asia
Scale of implementation
Rangeland / Pasture
Ecosystem services
Food security
Health and human wellbeing
Peace and human security
Urban and Disaster Risk Management
Territorial and spatial development
Urban poverty and housing
Sustainable development goals
SDG 1 – No poverty
SDG 2 – Zero hunger
SDG 3 – Good health and well-being
SDG 8 – Decent work and economic growth
SDG 9 – Industry, innovation and infrastructure
SDG 10 – Reduced inequalities
SDG 11 – Sustainable cities and communities
SDG 12 – Responsible consumption and production
SDG 13 – Climate action
SDG 15 – Life on land
SDG 16 – Peace, justice and strong institutions
SDG 17 – Partnerships for the goals
Aichi targets
Target 1: Awareness of biodiversity increased
Target 4: Sustainable production and consumption
Target 7: Sustainable agriculture, aquaculture and forestry
Target 8: Pollution reduced
Target 10: Ecosystems vulnerable to climate change
Target 13: Safeguarding genetic diversity
Target 14: Ecosystem services
Target 15: Ecosystem restoration and resilience
Target 18: Traditional knowledge
Target 20: Mobilizing resources from all sources
Sendai Framework
Target 2: Reduce the number of affected people globally by 2030
Target 3: Reduce direct disaster economic loss in relation to GDP by 2030
Business engagement approach
Direct engagement with associations
Indirect through consumers
Indirect through government


Kauswagan, Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte 9202, Philippines


Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte, located on the Mindanao islands, was a war-torn area devastated by the Moro conflict between Maranaos (Muslim community) and Bisayans (Christian settlers in the area). This conflict has its roots in the old colonialization of the Philippine islands. Colonial policies, encouraged after the Second Word War also by the Philippine government, stimulated the settlement of Christians from the north of the country in the Muslim-prevalent Mindanao. Such displacement left Muslims in Mindanao “minoritized” and fostered discontent about land rights. In the early 1970s, a full-scale armed conflict erupted between the Philippine government and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). The conflict continued throughout the remainder of the 1990s and the 2000s. After numerous attempts to resolve the conflicts, a final peace agreement was signed in 2014. While violence scaled up, also poverty incidence rose up to a level of almost 80% in 2009.


In total, around 600 ex-combatants and their families benefited directly from the programme. Indirectly over 26,000 inhabitants benefitted as no incidents of crime related to armed conflict have been registered in the last four years in the area.

How do the building blocks interact?

Kauswagan's programme ‘From Arms to Farms: Walking through the Paths of Peace’ is a subcomponent of the Sustainable and Integrated Kauswagan Area Development and Peace Agenda (SIKAD-PA) and how it was developed is particularly important as a strong and broad participation of different actors is one of its key success factors (BB1). Implemented measures of the programme are described in BB2. Together they built Kauswagan's Potential as a Transferable Model (BB3).


Without any doubt, the From Arms to Farms Programme has proven successful. No incidents of crime related to armed conflict between Muslims and Christians have been registered in the last four years in the area. In total, around 600 ex-combatants and their families benefited from the programme. Today all rebels active in the area have surrendered and many ex-commanders are now leaders in organic farming and are trying to convince Muslim fighters in other communities to cease fighting and surrender.


In 2016, the rate of poverty in the area decreased to 40 per cent. Thus the target of significantly reducing the poverty rate from the 70 per cent level of 2009, was met just five years after the inception of the programme. Food production has increased thanks to the fact that 300 ha of previously abandoned land are now cultivated by ex-fighters under organic and agroecological practices. Communities have been positively affected because ex-fighters can now afford to send their children to school.


The local government has adopted a set of resolutions aimed at guarantee long-lasting financial support to sustainable agriculture in the whole municipality.  In 2013, the municipality was declared by decree to be GMO and chemical pesticide free.



Contributed by

Ingrid Heindorf World Future Council (WFC)

Other contributors

IFOAM - Organic International