DSWD-12 to create more livelihood opportunities for ‘poorest of the poor’

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/1 Feb) – The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Region 12 or the Soccsksargen Region plans to create more livelihood opportunities this year for beneficiaries of the national government’s conditional cash transfer program in the area to eventually make them “self-sufficient.”

Bai Zorahayda Taha, DSWD Region 12 director, said they are currently drawing up some viable livelihood projects that would offer stable income opportunities for around 148,000 “poorest of the poor” households in the region that have so far benefited from the initiative, which is also known as Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or 4Ps.

She said the move mainly aims to make the 4Ps beneficiaries in the region become productive and self-reliant once they complete the program’s three-year cycle.

Region 12 covers the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.

Taha said they saw the need to integrate the livelihood component into the program following a survey last year that showed nearly 70 percent of their beneficiaries in the first two phases as still on the “survival” mode despite availing of the cash grants.

In their 2011 annual report, the official noted that out of the 17,189 households covered by their social welfare indicator or SWI survey last year, 12,508 or 68.48 percent of them remained on the first or survival level.

“Those households will be the focus of the case management to be conducted by the (program’s) municipal links where possible interventions could be drawn to help improve their well-being,” the official said.

A total of 4,658 households or 29.66 percent reached the second level or subsistence stage while only four beneficiaries or 0.02 percent managed to become self-sufficient or reached the third level, she said.

Taha said the survey covered the first two sets of beneficiaries that were enlisted in the municipalities of Senator Ninoy Aquino in Sultan Kudarat; Maasim and Malapatan in Sarangani; and, Lake Sebu and T’boli in South Cotabato.

She said the areas covered by the survey were considered as the pilot areas in the region for the government’s three-pronged anti-poverty convergence strategy, which also includes the Kalahi-CIDSS and the SEA-K programs.

Kalahi-CIDSS stands for Kapitbisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services and SEA-K for livelihood program Self-Employment Assistance-Kaunlaran.

Taha said they will conduct another round of the SWI survey this year to monitor the changes in the socio-economic status of the 4Ps household-beneficiaries.

“The overall impact of the three core programs of the department shall be determined, whether the cash grants as well as other interventions of both the program and its staff augmented the well-being of the beneficiaries,” she added.

4Ps is a poverty reduction and social development strategy of the national government that provides conditional cash grants to “poorest of the poor” households to improve their health, nutrition and education, particularly of children aged 0-14 years.

The program provides beneficiaries cash grants of P500 a month for health and nutrition expenses and P300 a month per child for educational expenses. A household with three qualified children could get P1,400 monthly. (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)