Economic development is not merely achieving a high growth rate in gross domestic product, it is also the cultivation of self-reliance and the full development of the potentials of an individual. A major task is to ensure that economic growth is shared by all through the distribution of the fruits of development among the citizenry particularly the marginalized sectors of society.
Prevailing economic difficulties have rendered more people vulnerable to social dislocation resulting to a growing number of individuals who are unable to provide for their own needs. Diminished real income and increasing unemployment have adversely affected the welfare of the disadvantaged individuals. For the disadvantaged sector, access to components of better living conditions depends to a great extent upon the availability and quality of government social welfare programs.
The social welfare program is principally involved in developing attitudes and skills and providing opportunities that will make the disadvantaged sector creative and productive as well as socially responsible and active members of the community.
Social welfare and development programs in the region are focused on those marginalized by various circumstances due to their disadvantaged position. These include children, street-children, youth offenders, women, elderly, persons with disabilities, indigenous people and disaster victims.
The past two years saw the intensified implementation of pro-poor programs in consonance with the MTRDP and the ten-point agenda of the present administration and responding to the challenges brought about by disasters. However, most of the poor are still unable to access or benefit from government programs on health, livelihood, credit and public infrastructure. There is the pressing need to address the issue of inadequate family income, the parents' lack of effective access to credit and employment opportunities and the dependence of some families on child work to augment their income.
Institutionalizing Empowerment of the Poor
The years 2005-2006 saw the expansion of the World Bank-assisted project, the Kalahi-CIDSS Kapangyarihan at Kaunlaran sa Barangay (KKB). It was piloted in Batuan, Masbate and reached out to 25 municipalities with 647 barangays and 55,859 households. Beneficiaries and local government units contribute about 40 percent of the total costs of the community projects. The project has also mobilized community volunteers who were trained on participatory analysis, project development, financial management and procurement, advocacy and fund sourcing, organizational development and project operations and maintenance.
The most common implemented projects are barangay roads, foot bridges, day care centers, water supply systems, barangay health stations, 2-classroom elementary school buildings and livelihood projects. These projects were identified and implemented through a community driven approach with an open menu of subprojects based on the needs and wants of the community. In 2006, a total of 141community projects have been constructed in the region with a total cost of Php 156 million.
The success of KALAHI-CIDSS KKB brought about the partnership between DSWD and Agencia Española Cooperacion International (AECI) and implemented the Poder Y Prosperidad De La Communidad project in the municipalities of Manito and Malinao in Albay. A total of 41subprojects were implemented amounting to P126 million with P13 million as grant from AECI.
One of the main programs found effective in augmenting income and which contributed to the improvement of the individuals’ and families’ welfare is the self-employment assistance (SEA-K) program. It provided opportunities for clients to engage in income generating projects. In 2006, DSWD was able to provide funding assistance to 70 SEA Kaunlaran Level 1 Associations (SKA) surpassing the plan target of 40 SKAs with a total fund release of Php4.88 million. Five groups composed of 205 family members have availed of the SEA-K level 2 amounting to P3.028 million. There are 658 functional SKAs with 15,018 member-families exceeding the plan targets. However, the implementation of the SEA-K, being the only welfare-oriented government livelihood program, needs to be revisited to prepare beneficiaries to eventually avail of credit from existing micro-finance institutions at market rates.
Efforts were made to mainstream micro-finance by providing credit to the poor by granting funds to NGOs engaged in micro-credit. Providing credit to the poor through micro-finance institutions has been an important component of the government’s poverty alleviation programs. There is however low availment of training programs, livelihood funds and entrepreneurial development.
Improving Access of the Vulnerable Groups to Social Protection
A total of 1,834 individual clients were served by DSWD through its retained community-based programs and services and operation of residential and non-residential centers and institutions. There has been a reported increase in the incidence of violence against children. DSWD reported and provided protective and rehabilitative services to 166 children, 47 cases of which are sexual abuse and 49 cases were on children in conflict with the law.
For 2006, DSWD in partnership with LGUs and NGOs extended relief and rehabilitation services to a total of 353,613 displaced families who were victims of Mount Mayon and Mt. Bulusan eruptions and three major typhoons that hit the region last year. The total funds released to assist these families amounted to P82.5 million. Food subsidy consisting of one kilo of iron-fortified rice was provided for every daily attendance of a child in day care centers. A total of 49,371 children in 1,394 day care centers covering 49 municipalities and one city were served. The project is funded by the DSWD and the President’s Social Fund.
The National Commission of Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) provided indigenous peoples greater access to basic services. It implemented services ranging from small-scale infrastructure, health and nutrition services, alternative livelihood, cultural and non-formal education assistance.
The elderly and the differently abled persons continue to have poor access to health and social services as well as opportunities for income generation and special education.
The objectives for the improvement of social welfare are:
To increase access, develop the capability and improve the quality of life of the marginalized sector giving emphasis to those with special needs like the disadvantaged and exploited children and women, indigenous people, the disabled, the elderly and the victims of natural calamities and man-made disasters.
To promote and uphold the rights, privileges and welfare of the elderly, persons with disabilities and women.
The strategies to improve social welfare are:
Promotion of self-employment programs and assistance to small and micro-enterprises.
Expansion of micro-credit services and provision of seed capital and capability building.
Enable LGUs to empower communities to address their minimum basic needs through the convergence approach with focus on the poor communities, disadvantaged, and indigenous peoples’ communities.
Strengthen linkages and coordinative mechanisms among government agencies, non-government and people’s organizations and civil society to enable them to contribute productively and bring about a more efficient and effective delivery of services.
Strengthen the capacity of LGUs and the communities to improve preventive and rehabilitative assistance services to cope with effects of disaster/calamities.
Promote among LGUs, government agencies and private institutions the laws covering the rights and welfare of the elderly and persons with disabilities and monitor the implementation of the Senior Citizens Act and Accessibility Law.
Develop the database for monitoring the situation of the poor and vulnerable groups at the local level and harmonize them with the monitoring systems for social development interventions at the national and sub-regional levels.
Major Programs and Projects
Self-Employment Assistance Program – community-based credit assistance program utilizing people’s organization, the SEA Kaunlaran Associations as credit conduits and includes capability building opportunities.
Community-Based Protective Services – protective and rehabilitative services provided to children with special needs, women in specially difficult circumstances, older persons and persons with disabilities.
Center-Based Protective Services – provides 24-hour residential care on a temporary basis to individuals whose needs cannot be met by their own families.
Shelter Assistance Project - provides shelter assistance to those rendered homeless by natural or man-made disasters.
Food for School Program – provision of one kilo iron fortified rice for every daily attendance of the child in the day care center.
Tindahan Natin – provides access to basic foods at affordable prices.
KALAHI-CIDSS KKB – aims to empower communities, improve local governance and provide economic opportunities.
Poder Y Prosperidad del Communidad - a community driven development program being funded by the Spanish government through the Agencia Espanola Cooperacion International (AECI).
Disaster Relief and Rehabilitation – provision of relief and rehabilitation services to individuals and families who were victims of man-made and natural calamities.