Nat’l gov’t bent on extending Kalahi anti-poverty project

Camilo Gudmalin, national project manager of Kalahi-CIDSS, said President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has instructed Social Welfare Secretary Esperanza Cabral and the project's national steering committee to start working for a new proposal that would extend and eventually institutionalize the World Bank-funded project.

"(The President) mainly wants to scale up the coverage of the project to include poor areas that are currently not benefiting from it," he told reporters during a recent visit here.

Kalahi-CIDSS stands for Kapitbisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive Integrated Delivery of Social Services, a six-year anti-poverty initiative implemented since 2003 by the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

The project, which is mainly funded by the national government's US$100-million soft loan from the World Bank, was designed to end in June 2009.

Gudmalin said the project has so far covered at least 4,229 barangays in 184 municipalities of the "poorest" 42 provinces in the country.

But he said the project's present coverage is only limited to about 10 percent of the country's "poorest of the poor" municipalities and barangays earlier identified by the National Statistics Office (NSO) and the National Statistical Coordination Board.

Citing NSO's figures on the country's poverty incidence, at least five million of the country's 13-million households are reportedly considered poor.

"Right now, Kalahi only covers around 1.5 million households. With the possible extension, we're targeting to cover the remaining 3.5 million poor households or even more," he said.

As of December, the project already completed at least 2,500 of the 3,900 sub-projects that were initially targeted for implementation.

In Region 12 or Southwestern Mindanao, the program is currently being implemented in the towns of President Roxas, Libungan, Magpet in North Cotabato; Columbio and Lutayan in Sultan Kudarat; Lake Sebu and T'boli in South Cotabato; and Malapatan and Malungon in Sarangani.

Gemma Rivera, Kalahi-CIDDS project manager for Region 12, said they have already completed 147 of the 207 priority sub-projects in the region.

In 2007, she said they were able to utilize at least P41.685 million to commence the implementation of the 60 remaining priority sub-projects that are due for completion before the end of 2009.
The completed sub-projects in the region includes 38 water systems, 26 farm-to-market roads, 19 school buildings, 18 health stations, 22 postharvest facilities, four hanging bridges, eight box culverts, five day care centers and four electrification systems. (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)