FIFTEEN students from New York University (NYU)-Abu Dhabi visited the Philippines to study and immerse in the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS) program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) from January 14 to 18.

The students, who come from different countries and university programs, are enrolled in a short course on community-driven development (CDD), the globally-recognized development strategy implemented and championed by Kalahi-CIDSS.

NYU Associate Professor Elisabeth King said the visit gives the students a first-hand opportunity to learn how the government combats poverty in different contexts.

“As they become familiar with development programs such as CDD, they would know how to effectively conduct impact evaluations and contribute to the improvement of such programs,” said King, who was involved in the program’s 2011-2015 impact evaluation study.

The visit began with a meeting-orientation led by National Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist Abigail Dela Cruz at DSWD Central Office, where students learned about the Kalahi’s implementation process, gains, and challenges.

Jansen Mayor from the Millennium Challenge Account-Philippines (MCA-P), one of the development partners of the program, provided additional insights.

Omar Ould Ali, an Interactive Media major from Morocco, remarked that how the program has continued despite the changes in government administration is “noteworthy.”

He compared it to his country where government leaders have different priorities and banner programs.

Prior to the visit, they met with University of the Philippines and non-profit research organization Innovations for Poverty Action to understand the stakeholders’ vital role in Kalahi-CIDSS.

The visit culminated with a three-day immersion in selected Kalahi-CIDSS communities in Palawan.

Kalahi-CIDSS is a government program that uses the CDD approach, which gives the power back to communities in identifying and implementing need-responsive projects for their locality. It aims to improve the wellbeing of poor Filipinos by empowering them to act and assert their needs for improved access to basic social services.

To date, Kalahi-CIDSS is implemented in 10,595 barangays with 909,347 community volunteers. The volunteers, along with partner local government units, have implemented a total of 25,469 needs-responsive projects that cost P28.43 billion. (PR)