US-funded project through Kalahi-CIDSS set to end by May 2016

MANILA – The project of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) funded by the Government of the United States of America (USA) through the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) is set to end by May 2016.

Implemented by the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS), the community-driven development (CDD) program of the DSWD, the project started in 2011 and covers 160 municipalities in the poorest provinces in the Philippines.

The project, dubbed as KC-MCC, is part of the MCC Compact between the Philippines, signed by President Benigno Aquino III, and the USA, signed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Being a CDD program, Kalahi-CIDSS, through KC-MCC, trains and capacitates citizens from its covered barangays to identify, implement, and manage their own community projects. In KC-MCC, the program was able to train 281,059 community volunteers, of which 59% are women and 41% are men. Some 55,741 served leadership positions, of which 53% are women and 47% are women.

“Salamat, Kalahi-CIDSS, at pinakinggan niyo ang aming hinaing. Malaki ang partisipasyon ng KC-MCC. Sa katunayan, nabawasan ang mga malnourished children sa amin… Binigyan niyo kami ng oportunidad. Hindi niyo tiningnan kung ano ang pinanggalingan namin (Thank you, Kalahi-CIDSS, for listening to our cry for help. The Project contributed a lot. In fact, there are now a lesser number of malnourished children in our communities because of this. You provided us opportunity. You did not look at our backgrounds)”, said Crisanda Peipino of Brgy Cal-igang of Catarman, Samar, explaining that most KC-MCC volunteers like her had little educational background but were given opportunities through the Project.

She continued, “Marami na kayong isdang nabigay sa amin, pero tinuruan niyo rin kami kung paano mangisda. Hindi niyo lang binago kami, binago niyo ang aming sarili. Hinubog niyo kami (You gave us a lot of fish, but you also taught us how to fish. You did not change our communities, you changed our own lives. You shaped us)”.

For her part, Nancy Bulalacao a volunteer from Baao, Camarines Sur, of which part of the population is comprised of Indigenous Peoples (IPs), said, “Ang mga IPs ay hindi na nahihiyang makisalamuha. Ang mga babae ay lumalahok na. Natutuwa sila sa Kalahi-CIDSS dahil andito na raw ang programa na tutulong sa amin (The IPs are no longer afraid to be with us. Even the women are participating. They like Kalahi-CIUDSS because they say the program is there to help us)”.

The community-driven development mechanism also enabled the residents of the covered municipalities to identify the projects, which usually come in the form of the small-scale infrastructures, to be implemented in their villages to address their most pressing problems. Through KC-MCC, a total of 3,905 community projects were funded, benefiting 965,266 households in 3,760 barangays across the country. As of January 2016, some 3,171 have already been completed.

Among these projects, the most common were roads (23%), school buildings (14%), access trails or footpaths (11%), water systems (9%), and drainage (8%). Other community projects implemented through the projects are day care centers, health stations, small bridges, and projects for soil, river, or flood control.

Given that most of these community projects were implemented by the communities themselves, a total of 151,812 were given temporary jobs during construction.

Originally, the grant amounted to US$120 million. However, US$12 million has since been added because of the good performance in the implementation of KC-MCC, enabling the Project to cover more areas and to reach more communities. Of this amount, US$1 million is for the Gender Incentive Grant (GIG), a complementary facility to support the gender mainstreaming initiatives of Kalahi-CIDSS.

“The gender and mainstreaming initiative (of Kalahi-CIDSS) has really empowered the women here, who made this their badge of honor in working in welding, plumbing”, said DSWD Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman.

As part of the agreement, Kalahi-CIDSS provided affirmative action opportunities for women in KC-MCC covered areas. Through the GIG, some 1,375 women were trained in non-traditional skills, such as welding, plumbing, and carpentry.

“Five years ago, there were a lot of questions on how the US taxpayers’ money were spent. Today, we saw the videos, we heard the testimonials, and we could say that the money was well spent”, said John Polk, the Philippines Resident Country Director of MCC.

Although the Compact is set to end by May 2016, the MCC Board of Directors re-selected Philippines as eligible for additional funding for its development programs in December 2015. The selection of the Philippines for a subsequent compact recognizes the significant progress achieved under the current compact and its strong efforts at policy reform, including successful efforts to root out corruption. ###