GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/25 February) – About half of the of the more than 15,000 beneficiaries of the national government’s conditional cash transfer initiative in South Cotabato and Sarangani provinces have posted significant improvements in their well-being and livelihood status as a result of the program’s interventions last year, an official of the Department of Social Welfare and Development said.
Juliet Clavel, program coordinator for Region 12 of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or 4Ps, said their monitoring showed that at least 7,935 family-beneficiaries of the program in four municipalities in South Cotabato and Sarangani provinces have leapt from survivor to subsistence status as of the end-2012.
She said such figure was based on the results of a survey conducted by implementers of 4Ps, which is a flagship initiative implemented by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), among its beneficiaries in Lake Sebu and T’boli towns in South Cotabato as well as Malapatan and Maasim towns in Sarangani Province.
The program’s beneficiaries in the four municipalities mainly comprise poor T’boli and B’laan families who were mostly situated in upland and remote communities.
“This is a major accomplishment for the program since we only had 1,793 beneficiaries in these areas that reached the subsistence level in 2011,” Clavel said.
A survey report released by DSWD Region 12 showed that a total of 4,205 beneficiaries in Lake Sebu and T’boli towns improved to the “subsistence level of well-being” last year.
Such number comprises about 45 percent of the 9,437 families that were covered by the program in the two municipalities.
In Malapatan and Maasim towns, the report said a total of 3,730 beneficiaries or about 61 percent of the 6,083 that were enlisted with the program in the area have also reached the subsistence stage by end-2012.
Clavel said the DSWD-12 uses the survey as a tool to measure the level of well-being of their beneficiaries and in the identification of their social and economic condition.
She said they classify the well-being status of their beneficiaries from survival, subsistence to self-sufficiency level or stage.
Clavel explained that the subsistence stage is a condition wherein program beneficiaries need minimal government support services in order to sustain their daily needs.
Those under the survival stage were considered crucial since they were still considered under extreme condition of poverty and were still in need of full government support, she said.
“We still have a lot of work to do with our subsistence level beneficiaries but we’re very hopeful that we can eventually help them move forward towards the self-sufficiency stage,” Clavel said.
In South Cotabato province, the official said they have already listed six families who have reached the self-sufficiency stage.
“These families who could now stand on their own and were already gaining some income out of their small businesses,” she said.
4Ps is a poverty reduction and social development strategy of the national government that provides conditional cash grants to “poorest of the poor” households to improve their health, nutrition and education particularly of children aged 0-14 years.
The program provides beneficiaries cash grants of P500 a month for health and nutrition expenses and P300 a month per child for educational expenses. A household with three qualified children could get P1,400 monthly. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)