Hope for the 12,000-A A +A
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
OVER 12,000 families in the Cordillera Administrative Region will be “graduating” from the government’s conditional cash transfer (CCT) program at end of the year. That means these families will stop receiving their cash grants after the five-year assistance period for their health, nutrition, and education needs.
Of course, the public will be very much interested on what will happen to these families. Was the program effective to alleviate their living conditions? Did it really benefit the poor? What awaits these families after 2013?
Last week, DSWD Secretary Dinky Soliman visited Baguio City to hold a dialogue with some of the CCT beneficiaries under Set 1 (the first set of beneficiaries from 2008). The Secretary sat down with parent leaders to personally listen to their stories and to discuss issues and concerns about the program.
It was not surprising, however, that most of them were really thankful for the cash grants they received from the program. Many of the beneficiaries also claimed both health and education benefits. Furthermore, the grantees claimed that they have learned so much from the monthly family development sessions conducted.
While these gains may be significant, there is a need for sustainability so that these poor households are assured that they are alleviated and that they are completely taken out of their vulnerabilities.
During the dialogue, beneficiaries brought with them their livelihood products which were actually a result of another assistance provided to them by the DSWD – this is the Sustainable Livelihood Program or SLP.
The SLP is the transition strategy of the DSWD for families who are about to graduate from the CCT. Under the program, families are assessed of their capabilities to start small businesses so that they will become self-sufficient even after the CCT.
Some of them have already started with food processing and with handicrafts as forms of livelihood. With these, they were given assistance not only by the DSWD but by other national government agencies and the private sector.
Now, over 1,000 families have been engaged in various livelihood activities to prepare them for their “graduation” from the CCT. These families have started to raise their own money to support their needs. The remaining 11,000 families are now undergoing either assessments or trainings with the DSWD to prepare them for the transition.
The SLP also offers employment assistance for those who chooses not to engage in microenterprise development. With its partners like the DOLE and the DPWH, CCT beneficiaries are assisted to seek employment based on their skills and educational attainment. Through employment assistance, poor families are still assured of self sufficiency.
The graduation of 12,000 families poses a big challenge not only to the DSWD but also to its partner agencies and institutions. Yet, the transition is also a big challenge for the poor families themselves because it will be their chance to prove that they did not just remain as mere spectators and receivers of assistance from government. It is their chance to prove that they are active collaborators and partners for their own development. As what one beneficiary exclaimed, success with the CCT and the SLP depends on the attitude of the beneficiary.
The SLP is only one of the measures of government to ensure that the gains of the CCT will continue and that the beneficiaries (hopefully) will no longer go back to indigence. It gives the 12,000 poor families hope that the way to their dreams, especially those of their sons and daughters, are of reach.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on March 13, 2013.