By Valentina Canavesio
PASAY CITY, Philippines, 29 June 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’.
|VIDEO: 19 May 2011 - UNICEF's Valentina Canavesio reports on a cash transfer programme that is helping Filipino families break the cycle of poverty. Watch in RealPlayer|
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.
|© UNICEF video|
|The cash transfer programme in the Philippines 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.|
“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
Almeda Mantos, 35, is one of the beneficiaries of the programme. Her husband is an assistant mechanic and they have four children between the ages of 3 and 8. Before being selected for the programme, the whole family depended on her husband’s small salary.
|© UNICEF video|
|The conditional cash transfer programme known as the ‘Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Programme’ or ‘4Ps’is helping families improve health, education and nutrition in Pasay City, Philippines.|
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.
|© UNICEF video|
|Local women in Pasay City, Philippines, have been trained to grow vegetables using water-based hydroponics technology in order to provide an additional source of income for their families.|
Supporting small businesses
With the money they have saved and put in a common pool, Ms. Mantos and her peers have started their own small business selling rice. As the profits grow, they have plans to expand and sell cooked meat and snacks. Ms. Mantos can now foresee a brighter future for herself and her family.
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.