With around 30 million Filipinos considered poor in 2006, 47% of these are children below 15 years old. Poverty can have detrimental effects on children who are still in their developmental stages. Poor children suffer not only from income poverty but also deprivations from proper shelter and water and sanitation. In 2006, 17,000 children suffered from such deprivations.
Decision-making in the planning and budgeting processes at the local government are largely left to planning and budgeting officers and chief executives of local government units (LGUs). While government is mandated to work closely with the people in arriving at development strategies, forms of participation by civil society organizations (CSOs) are thought to be advisory at best. Decisions on specific development projects to be included in the budget remain at the hands of government officials, and so inclusive participation by CSOs and the people remain weak.
Given the different faces of poverty children face, the Social Policy section is providing technical assistance to the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD) Modified Conditional Cash Transfer (MCCT) program. These include the development of a monitoring and evaluation framework. Piloted in 2012, the MCCT program is an expanding social protection program that helps children and families falling under the cracks of non-delivery of basic services. It caters to families in need of special protection such as street families, indigenous people and migrant families, and the like.
UNICEF helps its 36 priority LGUs come up with Local Poverty Reduction Action Plan (LPRAP) and achieve the Seal of Good Housekeeping to comply with the Bottom-up Planning and Budgeting (BUB) initiative of the Aquino government. In this process, constituents are encouraged to express their needs and recommend solutions. The LPRAPs contain such solutions wherein priority development projects are identified and submitted for approval and funding.
UNICEF also conducts capacity building workshops on local public finance. This is done in partnership with Social Watch Philippines.
Given the scope of groups targeted by the modified CCT, the program reaches more vulnerable children than is possible before—from children suffering from natural-made and manmade disasters to urban challenges, migration, and exploitation.
UNICEF’s assistances on local planning and budgeting help communities and CSOs to be more involved in participating and making decisions in local governance. Similarly, marginalized sectors’ issues are increasingly tackled and addressed in the local political arena. The implementation and delivery of social services is expected to be more transparent, accountable and efficient.