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Convergence efforts key to sustain gains beyond 2015
by Hanna Lacsamana

Julius used to blame his common-law wife Theresa when his peers, one by one, started avoiding him. The reason: They were repulsed with the idea of being associated with someone whose wife is notorious in their barangay for being first on the spot when it was time for residents to bring out their garbage.

Apparently, the connection will be bad for their image. They could not stomach the fact Julius has for his partner a scavenger who rummages through piles of refuse and deal with her hands all sort of imaginable dirt of other people.

But the 30-year-old mother of two stands her ground. She didn’t ask to be poor, but she does not dream of staying poor either, with two growing children who have growing needs at that.

So it is dealing with stinking matters like human bodily fluids and rotten goods, or her family will starve. It doesn’t count that she also lives with an inherited illness that puts her health at risk with her exposure to garbage, or supposed to have a husband who should take the cudgel as the head of the family; she has to scavenge because she has herself and some hungry mouths to feed, clothe, buy medicines for, and send to school.

Theresa had to contend with the reality that they will not survive if she will feed her pride and image instead of doing something to earn to live. Without a degree or talent to use, she readily joined a group of friends in Baguio City who introduced her to the art of finding gold in the garbage.

“I am not ashamed of what I do. I prefer dealing with garbage than stealing,” Theresa said. Julius, a driver but without a jeepney or taxi operator to work for permanently, realized that if not for his wife, the family they built would not have survived.

In the barangay where she lives, Theresa either stays late at night or wakes up early dawn to go over the garbage as people bring them in for the scheduled collection. Other days, she goes downtown to rummage in garbage areas in the central business district, on the look for the proverbial bote, dyaryo, lata, and other recyclable things among the stacks, which she collects and later sells to various junk buyers.

A kilo of can sells for P5, plastic for P14, and paper or carton for P3. Theresa said this “exchange rate” is so like gasoline prices. It fluctuates – sometimes expensive, more often cheaper – depending on “supply and demand,” which means it depends on whether the clients of the junk buyers need more or lesser recyclable materials for various purposes.

So Theresa’s income is unpredictable, and being able to regularly provide for the basic needs for her family is also uncertain, like a roller coaster.

“Minsan kumita ako ng P15,000 sa isang buwan. Pakiramdam ko ang yaman namin. Pero mas madalas, malaki na ang P6,000 sa buong isang buwan. ‘Pag minalas, halos wala.”

Theresa has no idea that so are the efforts of her government of meeting the Millennium Development Goals, which the United Nations, Philippines among member-countries, agreed to achieve by 2015. One is eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, which targets to halve the proportion of people whose income is less than one dollar a day, indicated by the proportion of population below national poverty threshold, proportion of population below the food threshold, and poverty gap ratio;

Achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all, including women and young people, indicated by growth rate of Gross National Product per person employed, employment to population ratio, proportion of employed population living below the national poverty threshold, proportion of own-account and contributing family workers in total employment; and

Halve the proportion of people who suffer from hunger, indicated by prevalence of underweight children under five years, percent of household with per capita less than 100 percent adequacy, proportion of population with mean one-day energy intake less than 100 percent adequacy, and proportion of population below national subsistence (food) threshold.

 CAR poverty situation at a glance

Theresa is part of the 77,811 poor households in the Cordillera based on the 2012 statistics released by the National Statistical Coordination Board. It says an estimated 464,046 individuals are poor out of the 1,616,867 (2010 National Statistics Office data) population of the Cordillera, or an estimated 73,082 poor families out of the total 323,373 families. This means in Cordillera, 22.6 percent of the families have a monthly income of below P9,734, which is the minimum income or amount required to be spent by a reference family (five members) to satisfy the nutritional requirements of 2,000 calories and other basic needs, for the first semester of 2012. The region’s poverty incidence is higher than the national rate of 22.3 percent.

Apayao has the highest poverty incidence at 59.8 percent (second nationwide). This rate is higher compared to that of 2006, which was 51.3 percent and 43.9 percent in 2009.

It is followed by Ifugao with 47.5 percent (seventh nationwide), Mountain Province with 34.8 percent (26th nationwide), Abra with 34.4 percent (28th nationwide), Kalinga with 29.4 percent (43rd nationwide), and Benguet/Baguio City with 4.3 percent (81st nationwide).

In terms of probability of meeting the MDG target on poverty, halving the percentages of Cordillera’s proportion of population living below the national poverty threshold and food threshold appear on track.

In 2009, the proportion of population below the national poverty threshold is at 22.9 percent from a baseline of 37.3 percent in 1991 and a target of 18.7 percent. The proportion of population below the food threshold is at 10.8 percent from a baseline of 22.8 percent in 1991, with a target of 2.1 percent.

The poverty gap ratio, however, needs some catching up. In 2009 it was pegged at 4.8 percent from a baseline of 4.1 percent in 1991.

Convergence strategy

Last October, somebody came to Theresa’s house – built as an extended part of a house with the owner’s consent – and interviewed them about their personal circumstances. She later learned they were from the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

Two months after, she was informed her family qualified for the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or 4Ps of the national government, which the DSWD implements, and from then on has been receiving monthly cash grants and attending family development sessions.

“Although meager, I’m thankful for being a 4Ps recipient, because it includes cash grants for my children whose welfare I’m more concerned about,” Theresa said.

She understands the assistance she gets from the program will not instantly and completely solve her family’s dismal situation, but as an immediate measure to address her and her children’s health, education, and nutrition. She knows improving her life still depends on whether she maximizes the available resources she has and make it sustainable.

As a response to the MDG’s call to halve the poverty incidence by 2015, the DSWD, as the leader in the social welfare and development sector, implements the 4Ps, Kapitbisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services, and the Self-employment Assistance para sa Kaunlaran (SEAK-K) Integrated Program or Sustainable Livelihood Program.

DSWD-CAR Director Leonardo Reynoso said these are the department’s core programs focused on the poor and poverty reduction.

A convergence of these programs and reengineering them as a poverty reduction strategy can exponentially increase their combined impact to reduce poverty beyond what each project can accomplish on its own.

Convergent actions revolve around a platform composed of six themes, which are targeting of beneficiaries, social facilitation and community mobilization, social case management, LGU engagement, capability building, and monitoring and evaluation. The confluence of 4Ps, Kalahi-CIDSS, and SEA-K in these six themes hastens the achievement of DSWD’s reform area to provide faster, better, and smarter social protection programs through improved models and regulations.

This was also aimed at addressing the comment of the Development Academy of the Philippines in 2009 noted by the DSWD in its primer, that the “government has been implementing various programs in an attempt to address poverty. However, the current social protection system is characterized by a series of fragmented and uncoordinated programs. The multiplicity of programs and the numerous government agencies involved often result in poor coordination, redundancy in the provision of services or overlapping of program targets or beneficiaries.”

On the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction of DSWD, which is a data management system that identifies who and where the poor are in the country, 73,082 households in the Cordillera are identified as poor. As of last year, 58,512 or 80 percent of these households have been made beneficiaries of the 4Ps, and the remaining 20 percent are still being targeted as recipients.

These efforts are only on the part of DSWD. Reynoso said other government agencies involved in providing social services also have programs geared towards poverty alleviation that have to be considered. Efforts are coordinated to avoid duplicity of programs and to assure their objectives are achieved.

Catch-up plan; beyond 2015

Reynoso said based on the assessment of Cordillera’s situation for 2011, it seemed there is a need for some catching up to do in order to meet certain MDGs, and not only in terms of poverty reduction. This called for an integrated effort among all government agencies involved in providing social services in support to the plans and programs of local government units.

It is for this reason a catch-up plan was formulated to see what needs to be done all concerned sectors in order to be able to meet the targets.

Reynoso is confident the region will be able to meet the goals set to be achieved by 2015. But he reminded stakeholders should not be fixated on meeting these targets for the sake of compliance.

“We should think beyond 2015. It is all the more important to assure that the impacts of the programs we have implemented are sustained; otherwise these will all be useless.

“This is a challenge for local chief executives, who should be conscious of the MDGs and of the achievement of these goals. We need to remind that achieving these goals is not the concern of the national government alone. It should be a convergence of efforts,” he said. “DSWD is here to provide support services. However, we are taking the lead to see to it our programs positively impact our target be-neficiaries, in coordination with other concerned agencies.”
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Informatics Institute
InterContinental Hotels Group
Medline International Training Institute Baguio
National Economic and Development Authority

Baguio Central University
Congressman Ronald M. Cosalan
Department of Agriculture – CAR
Department of Education – CAR
Department of Health – CAR
Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan
MMS Development Training Center Corporation
Municipality of La Trinidad
National Grid Corporation of the Philippines
Philex Mining Corporation
Pines City Colleges
University of the Philippines

Ahead Tutorial and Review
Baguio Memorial Chapels Inc.
Benguet Electric Cooperative Inc.
Benguet State University
BSBT College Inc.
Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources – CAR
Commission on Higher Education – CAR
Congressman Nicasio M. Aliping Jr.
Cordillera School of Digital Arts
Department of Environment and Natural Resources – CAR
Department of Trade and Industry – CAR
Dreamforce Review and Training Center
Fabulo Beauty and Image Salon
Far East Pacific Commercial
Filipino–Japanese Foundation of Northern Luzon, Inc.
Ganza and Solibao Restaurants
Governor Nestor B. Fongwan
John Hay Management Corporation
La Funeraria Paz, Inc.
Mother Earth Deli Basket
Nagomi Spa
NARDA’S / WINACA Eco Cultural Village
NIIT Baguio
Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Montessori
Philippine Information Agency – CAR
Philippine National Police – Police Regional Office – COR
Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Benguet
STI College Baguio
The Manor


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