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Monday, June 17, 2024

Gov’t anti-poverty programs need scaling up

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If four out of 10 Filipino families in the country consider themselves “poor” based on the results of the latest Social Weather Stations survey, then it shows the Marcos Jr. administration’s plan to reduce poverty incidence from double-digit to single-digit level by 2028 faces enormous challenges.

Conducted from March 21 to 25, the survey indicated that 46 percent or an estimated 12.9 million Filipino families rated themselves as “poor,” 23 percent thought of themselves as “not poor,” while 30 percent considered themselves “borderline” (between “poor” and “not poor”).

The results were similar to the findings of the previous survey in December 2023 in which 47 percent or 13 million families rated themselves as “poor;” 20 percent, “not poor;” and 33 percent, “borderline.”

That a substantial number of Filipino families describe themselves as poor can only mean that government programs and projects aimed at poverty reduction are hardly delivering on their promises for one reason or another.

It is the Department of Social Welfare and Development that is responsible for the development, implementation, and coordination of social protection and poverty reduction strategies for the underprivileged, vulnerable, and destitute.

It implements a key component of the government’s poverty reduction program, the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or 4Ps, which is a conditional cash transfer program that offers cash grants to low-income families.

The DSWD also implements the Sustainable Livelihood Program, a community-based initiative that provides capacity building to raise the socioeconomic standing of the program members.

It helps microbusinesses develop organizationally and financially. Additionally, it connects participants with work opportunities.

Then there’s also DSWD’s assistance to individuals or families in crisis situations:

This serves as a social safety net to assist people and families recovering from unforeseen crises such as illness, loss of a family member, fires, floods, and other setbacks.

This program has created a special unit known as the Crisis Intervention Unit that serves as an Action Center during emergencies to respond promptly to these cases.

Apparently, while these DSWD programs may be working and helping improve the lives of people, the fact that one in four Filipinos still struggle to survive on a daily basis indicates that government should exert greater efforts in fighting poverty at the ground level.

While at this, it is incumbent on the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Poverty Alleviation to make a full report on what it has achieved so far in implementing its mandate and what still remains to be done to bring poverty incidence to single-digit level by 2028.

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