The Philippines has been one of the fastest-growing economies in the East Asia and Pacific Region. However, poverty has been slow to decline and remains high at 21.6 percent of the population. The high number of poor families represents a major challenge for the country. Poverty in the Philippines is concentrated in rural areas. Similarly, vulnerability to poverty, due to factors like disaster risks remain a major concern. Perennial typhoons and flooding are the most devastating in terms of their economic and social impact. Violent conflict in some parts of the country including in Mindanao has also disrupted the delivery of basic services and resulted in low human capital investment. Before the project was implemented in 2009, low health and education outcomes among poor children were largely a result of: (a) low spending on human development and social services and particular health and social assistance programs; (b) a fragmented approach to protect the poor and vulnerable; and (c) the absence of an effective and objective system to target or identify poor and vulnerable households.
To support the government’s social welfare reform initiatives, the Bank tapped its institutional knowledge and expertise in designing and implementing large-scale CCTs and targeting systems around the world. The project uses a programmatic approach that also leverages technical assistance in building up the targeting system and the CCT into what it is today – a strong social protection system that has become the centerpiece of the government’s social protection strategy. In particular, the project supported the development of an objective, rigorous national household targeting system called Listahanan to better direct the social programs implemented by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and other government agencies. Listahanan was used to identify poor households for the CCT program and for other government programs. By taking a system approach, other national agencies, local governments and legislators and even civil society can draw from the Listahanan to provide assistance where is it needed the most in a transparent and fair manner.
The project also supported the roll-out and scale up of the country’s CCT program, Pantawid Pamilya Pilipino Program, or 4Ps, which provides cash grants to poor households as incentives for parents to keep their children healthy and in school. There are two requirements: children aged 14 and under and pregnant women should have regular health checks; and school-aged children (between 6 and 18 years old) should attend school classes at least 85 percent of the time. Overall the project is a long-term investment that contributes to breaking the cycle of inter-generational poverty by helping today’s children become productive members of society.
From 2007 to December 2016, the project has achieved important results:
- The DSWD has collected information from more than 15 million households for the Listahanan 2015, of which 5.1 million households are identified as poor and have been targeted for government assistance.
- The database has become the backbone of the government’s anti-poverty programs and is now being used by 25 national programs targeting poor households including the Universal Health Care Program and the CCT. The database also helped to identify beneficiary families for various rehabilitation programs in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) in 2013 and to develop various anti-child labor programs and services with the Department of Labor and Employment.
- The CCT covers 4.4 million households and 90 percent of grantees are women (usually the mother in the family). In all, 10.18 million children are currently benefiting from the program including 1.9 million in high school. Elementary schools have reached near-universal enrollment among children in participating households. 333,673 graduated from high-school in 2015, including 13,400 honors graduates.
- An evaluation study estimates that the program leads to a poverty reduction of 1.4 percentage points per year. Without the program, there would be nearly 1.5 million more Filipinos in poverty, pushing the poverty rate to 23 percent from the current 21.6 percent. This is partly because social protection programs such as 4Ps help protect the poor from the adverse impacts of various shocks the country has experienced over the past six years.
- The CCT program is delivering on its education and health objectives:
- Enrollment among poor elementary school children increased by 5 percentage points while secondary education enrollment increased by 7 percentage points.
- The program increased prenatal and postnatal care by 10 percentage points and increased the delivery of babies in health facilities by skilled health professionals by 20 percentage points.
- The number of children receiving a higher intake of vitamin A and iron supplements increased by around 12 percentage points and the number attending weight monitoring visits at health facilities increased by 18 percentage points.