Philippines: 200,000 More Poor Households Will Have Incentives to Invest in Education and Health of their Children

December 11, 2012

WASHINGTON, December 11, 2012 - Close to 200,000 more poor households will have cash incentives to keep their children in school and in good health with the approval today of the US$100 million additional financing for the Philippines’ conditional cash transfer (CCT) program by the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors.

To date, around 3 million Filipino households are receiving modest cash subsidies from the country’s CCT program called Pantawid Pamilya, one of the major components of the country’s Social Welfare and Development Reform Project (SWDRP) implemented by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and supported by the World Bank.

Launched in 2009, SWDRP aims to strengthen the capability of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to better implement Pantawid Pamilya and build the country’s targeting system for identifying the poor.

In exchange for the subsidy from Pantawid Pamilya, poor households are to keep their children between the ages 0-14 in school and take them to health stations for regular checks. Pregnant mothers are also required to get proper prenatal and postnatal care and their deliveries attended to by health professionals.

“The additional financing for Pantawid Pamilya will enable us to expand the program and include more poor households who are vulnerable and marginalized,” said DSWD Secretary Corazon Soliman, in welcoming the approval of the additional financing. “Pantawid Pamilya helps poor households meet their immediate needs including food, but it’s also our society’s investment in the education and health of our children.”

Pantawid Pamilya helps reduce the vulnerability of households to sudden economic difficulties due to factors like natural calamities. Ultimately, it will help prevent the transmission of poverty from one generation to the next by helping today’s children become more productive members of society,” Secretary Soliman added.

According to Secretary Soliman, CCT is part of a broader strategy of the country in fighting poverty under the Philippines Development Plan (PDP).

The PDP aims to achieve high and sustained growth rate that creates jobs and economic opportunities for the poor. The PDP aims to achieve this goal through measures such as investments in infrastructure, transparent governance, higher investments in social protection programs like Pantawid Pamilya, and improved delivery of social services.

Currently, Pantawid Pamilya covers around 7.5 million children nationwide. Preliminary findings of a recent World Bank study covering 1,418 sample households indicates that Pantawid Pamilya is achieving its objective of enabling poor households to increase their investments in the health and education of their children.

Seventy-six percent (76%) of children in Pantawid Pamilya households are enrolled in day care as against 65 percent in non-Pantawid households. Almost all (98 percent) of Pantawid Pamilya children are enrolled in elementary as against 91 percent among non-beneficiaries.

The survey also revealed that the beneficiary children attend their classes regularly (96 percent) compared to non-beneficiary children (91 percent).

Pantawid Pamilya children are also using more health services compared to non-beneficiary households: 33 percent have their weight monitored (as against 17 percent among non-beneficiaries), 63 percent take deworming pills (against 55 percent among non-beneficiaries) and 81 percent take Vitamin A (as against 75 percent among non-beneficiaries).

Compared to non-beneficiary households, the survey also found that Pantawid Pamilya households spend 38 percent more on education, while spending 34 percent more on medicine and medical services.

Pantawid Pamilya is clearly changing the spending patterns of poor households, with beneficiary households spending more on health and education of their children and pregnant mothers than poor households who had not received the program,” said Mr. Nazmul Chaudhury, World Bank Country Sector Coordinator for Human Development.

World Bank Country Director Motoo Konishi said that the World Bank, together with other development partners, is supporting CCT because it is well-targeted and directly helps poor households meet their basic needs while improving their human capital.

“International experience shows that CCT contributes towards reducing inequality. Combined with high and sustained economic growth, CCT as a form of social safety net provides an equitable foundation for inclusive growth - growth that works for the poor,” said Mr. Konishi.

“Over 30 countries worldwide are implementing CCT programs. These kinds of initiatives are among the fastest growing social safety net programs in the world today.”

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