“Walang maiiwan sa kaunlaran [No one will be left behind in development].”
Such is the resounding call of Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman.
With the desire to achieve inclusive growth, the DSWD commits to improve the quality of life of more than five million poor families through social protection and poverty reduction programs.
In support of the DSWD’s Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP), which aims to enhance income-earning opportunities for poor families, the Australian government released a P31-million technical assistance grant to the Philippine government. The 24-month grant given through the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) began in May 2013 and will conclude in April 2015.
The AusAID technical assistance works toward improving the policy framework of SLP for conditional cash transfer beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program.
Breaking the cycle of poverty. Sec. Soliman is determined to break the inter-generational cycle of poverty among poor families. While the Pantawid Pamilya invests in human capital through health, education, and family development, the SLP aims to improve socio-economic mobility among beneficiaries.
The technical assistance for the SLP is threefold: (1) scaling up micro-enterprise development, (2) creating employment opportunities, and (3) capacity development. Consultants from the AusAID are tasked to conduct various activities to strengthen each component.
Scaling up micro-enterprise development. With a community-driven enterprise development (CDED) approach, the SLP encourages participants to engage in resource-based, market-driven community enterprises.
Part of the technical assistance of the AusAID is a rapid impact assessment in identifying effective livelihood practices, to be modified for replication and expansion.
In addition, the technical assistance also covers crafting an implementation plan to increase access to financial services for the poor and expand their CDED opportunities. This entails a national rollout of the CDED approach.
Creating employment opportunities. To meet urgent and increasing needs of the poor, the DSWD collaborates with other government agencies that currently implement short-term public employment programs.
The Cash-for-Work program is often used for post-disaster operations to rebuild communities. While the program involves short-term employment, the participants gain skills and experience in the construction of small infrastructure projects that will also increase their access to local economic activities.
Included in the implementation plan from AusAID is the integration of gains from short-term employment to micro-enterprise development and sustainable employment opportunities.
With the skills and experience acquired, and relevant infrastructure put in place, program participants may scale up from community contracting to starting their own micro-enterprises or finding more permanent work.
Capacity development. Crucial in the improvement of the SLP’s framework is the active involvement of regional implementers. One relevant output from the AusAID technical assistance is the production of training modules linking the two strategic themes of micro-enterprise development and employment facilitation.
Moreover, the DSWD moves to strengthen partnerships with other government agencies and civil society organizations in order to achieve optimal results. The AusAID technical assistance should be able to develop a partnerships policy framework. This highlights the role of the DSWD as facilitator, linking the program participants to partner organizations competent in providing necessary technical assistance and capability building.
Serving since 2011. The SLP has served 280,427 Pantawid Pamilya families since it began in 2011 until December 2013. Some 262,112 of these households were served through micro-enterprise development. With the help of 533 public and private sector partners, the program was able to serve 144,636 families, providing a range of services from skills training, product development and marketing, credit and financial assistance, to direct employment.
In 2014, the program aims to serve 482,441 Pantawid Pamilya families. With the help of the technical assistance from the AusAID, all of these families will benefit from the enhanced strategies.