Cash transfer initiative breaks cycle of poverty for families in the Philippines
By Valentina Canavesio
PASAY CITY, Philippines, 5 July 2011 – Despite much discussed economic growth in the Philippines before the global recession, more than 40 per cent of Filipino households live on less than $2 a day. To break the cycle of poverty, the Government has launched a five-year-long conditional cash transfer programme known as the ‘Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Programme’ or ‘4Ps’.
It is a poverty reduction and social development strategy that provides conditional cash grants to the country’s poorest households in order to improve their health, nutrition and education, particularly for children under the age of 14.
The 4Ps provides families with $140 a year per household for health and nutrition expenses and $70 per child for educational expenses – up to three children per household – as long as they comply with the conditions.
“The six conditions of the programme are very much focused on children,” says UNICEF Representative in the Philippines Vanessa Tobin. “They focus on immunization of children, early child care and development, primary school attendance, de-worming, and on better parenting practices.” In addition, pregnant women must receive pre- and post-natal care and be attended during childbirth by a trained health professional.
Pasay City is one of the pilot areas for the programme. UNICEF is supporting the national and local governments in the programme’s implementation and monitoring.
Cash grants focus on children
Now they are able to set money aside and the cash grant has enabled them to provide for their children better, making sure they have enough medicine, food and school items.
As a member of the Pasay community, Ms. Mantos has also been trained along with a group of local women to grow vegetables using hydroponics technology, which is the ability to grow plants without the use of soil. Instead plants grow in a bath or in highly oxygenated, nutrient-enriched water. This project aims to address the increasing number of poor families experiencing malnutrition and hunger, and to provide an additional source of income.
UNICEF has been complementing the 4Ps by training community leaders to hold regular meetings. Besides learning good parenting skills, beneficiaries also participate in sessions on livelihood and business skills, and financial literacy. The hope is for beneficiaries to develop saving habits and invest in sustainable business activities.
Supporting small businesses
For Ms. Tobin, this is exactly what the long-term goal of the UNICEF-supported project aims to achieve, enabling beneficiaries to break the cycle of poverty. “Our aim is to support that to obviously ensure that these children can directly benefit and then the next generation benefits immensely,” she says.