YEARENDER: A year of calamities: DSWD launches big-ticket programs

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) had its hands full in 2014 with big-ticket anti-poverty projects and rehabilitation efforts for the millions of victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda and other calamities.

“One of the biggest challenges we faced this year was the continuing response to the devastation and ravages of the multiple disasters of 2013. We have to provide services and assistance to the poor communities affected, which have become poorer because of these disasters,” Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman told The STAR.

“Another concern is the need to cover sectors that were not reached by the National Household Targeting System – the street families, families in geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas… Knowing who and where the clients are will allow the DSWD to ensure that the services we provide them will respond to their needs,” she added.

Last June, the conditional cash transfer (CCT) program started covering high school-age children of household beneficiaries, getting additional 700,000 students in school.

The Kapitbisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS) was also expanded into the National Community Driven Development Program (NCDDP), with a whopping budget of P43 billion.

These programs were launched last September in Eastern Visayas, the region hardest hit by Yolanda in November 2013.
“We had to think of ways to sustain the spirit and joy of service of a tired workforce. Disaster work is just one aspect of our job… We still have our regular programs, which continue to expand. These things have used up the energy of our people,” Soliman admitted.

But Soliman clarified that all the rehabilitation projects for Yolanda survivors, the CCT, and the launch of Kalahi-CIDSS and NCDDP, were all welcome efforts.

She noted that the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank’s financial support of $479 million and $372.1 million respectively, to the Kalahi-CIDSS and NCDDP, was their big mark of appreciation and encouragement for the programs.

The Kalahi-CIDSS could be considered Soliman’s baby since it was started in 2003 during her first tour of duty at the DSWD.

Kalahi-CIDSS started as a five-year program, with $100-million funding from the World Bank.

Kalahi-CIDSS went on to finance close to 6,000 local projects worth $265 million, benefiting over 1.6 million households in the poorest municipalities in the Philippines. International funding agencies then gave additional financial grants, extending the program beyond its original five-year term.

The expansion of Kalahi-CIDSS into the NCDDP has allowed the DSWD to go nationwide, from the original 11 provinces (Quezon, Zamboanga del Norte, Lanao del Norte, Davao del Norte, Sarangani, Agusan del Norte, Iloilo, Ifugao, Masbate, Siquijor, and Eastern Samar) covered by Kalahi-CIDSS to 58 provinces covered by NCDDP.

The community-driven development approach pushed by Kalahi-CIDSS is said to empower fourth to sixth class municipalities, organizing councils in the barangay level that are given power to identify and decide priority development projects that will be undertaken in the particular barangay.

The development projects may include local infrastructure such as water systems, school buildings, day care centers, health stations and roads and bridges.

Kalahi-CIDSS has consistently showed that community-initiated projects are better in terms of quality and are sustained by the communities years after completion.

Soliman stressed that the flagship anti-poverty projects are not distracting the DSWD in any way from the rehabilitation and recovery efforts for Yolanda survivors and families affected by the Zamboanga siege in September 2013. ###