DSWD Region 12 seeks ways to address needs of nearly a million poor children

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/03 Nov) — The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is working on various interventions to address the basic needs and uplift the living conditions of some 835,604 identified poor children in the area.

Bai Zorahayda Taha, DSWD Region 12 director, said Monday the figure was based on the database of the Listahanan or National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction (NHTS-PR) survey conducted by the agency in the region’s four provinces and five cities.

Also known as Southwestern Mindanao or Soccsksargen, Region 12 comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong Kidapawan and Cotabato.

“The survey results showed that the children’s sector represents 52.2 percent of the identified 1,601,225 poor individuals in the entire region,” Taha said.

She said North Cotabato posted the highest number of children in poor households with 284,387 or 34 percent, followed by South Cotabato with 198,205 or 23.7 percent.

Sultan Kudarat registered 172,552 or 20.6 percent, Sarangani Province with 128,494 or 15.4 percent and Cotabato City with 51,966 or 6.2 percent.

Taha said the population or number of poor children was found greater in rural areas with a total of 671,638 individuals or 80.4 percent.

She said 163,966 or 19.6 percent are situated in the urban areas, specifically in the cities and key municipalities in the region.

In terms of educational attainment, a total of 350,630 or 42 percent of the identified poor children have reached the elementary grade and 106,151 or 12.7 percent were able to get high school education.

To improve the plight of the region’s poor children, Taha said they are continually implementing various convergence initiatives, among them the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or 4Ps.

DSWD-12 currently implements the initiative in the entire Region 12 and Marawi City in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Since its launching in the area six years ago, the agency has already served a total of 222,366 “poorest of the poor” households and released around P6.36 billion in cash grants.

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.

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.

The 4Ps only used to cover households with children up to age 14 but it was expanded up to age 18 starting this year to allow beneficiaries in the elementary level to continue their schooling until high school.

DSWD-12 had covered a total of 581,853 households in the region in the initial phase of the Listahanan.

Of these, the agency identified 296, 043 households as poor and were targeted as beneficiaries of its anti-poverty and other related socio-economic interventions. (MindaNews)