|Hungry for Change|
|News Features - Success Stories|
|Written by 4Ps Social Marketing Unit|
|Tuesday, 27 March 2012 07:43|
For the longest time, Rossell Arenas would battle the scorching heat of the sun along with other mothers in Capas, Tarlac to collect left out rice grains in muddy fields. At best, she can collect 1 sack of rice grains in a week’s time to feed her family of four.
“Lugaw” (rice porridge) was the regular meal in their home despite the limited rice supply. When the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program came into their lives, her two children Louie Jay and Louie Cel, ages 3 and 4 respectively, quickly welcomed vegetable and fish viands in their meals.
“Malaking tulong sa amin ang binibigay ng Pantawid Pamilya, lalo na sa mga pang araw-araw na pangangailangan. Nakaka-dagdag sa pambili ng pagkain at damit,” shared Rossell. (The assistance given by Pantawid Pamilya has been a great help to us, especially for our daily needs. It adds to our food and clothing budget.) She uses the cash grants worth Php800 per month in purchasing half-sack of rice every month. She attributes the good health of her two children to nutritious food that they can now afford as they do not get sick often.
Annalyn Lavitoria, also from Capas Tarlac, faced similar situation of hardship before they were chosen as member household of Pantawid Pamilya. “Mahirap talaga ang buhay naming noon,” Annalyn said, who has four children ages 8, 6, 3 and 1 to support. (Life was really difficult for us before.) “May mga panahon na wala kaming pambili ng pagkain kaya humihingi at binibigyan na lang kami ng mga kapit-bahay. May mga araw din na walang baon sa eskwela ang aking mga anak pero pumapasok pa din sila,” she added. (There were times when we had no means to buy food so we just asked from our neighbors and they would give us [food]. There were also days when my children didn’t have any allowance but they still attended school.)
Her family was able to receive their first cash grant worth Php1,400 and quickly felt the difference in their lives. “Pagkakuha ko ng cash grant ko, una kong binibili ang gatas, pagkain at gamit sa eskwela ng mga anak ko kasi para talaga sa kanila yung pera,” she explained. (When I get the cash grant, I would first buy milk, food and school supplies for my children because the money is really for them.)
The latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey showed that though poverty incidence dropped during the 4th quarter of 2011, hunger incidence worsened. This has led some legislators and partners from the media to question the efficacy and impact of the program in addressing the problem of poverty and hunger. Some have asked the Department of Social Welfare and Development to explain how the funds of the program are actually being used while others have gone as far as to recommend the government to look for a more effective and sustainable poverty reduction program.
Rossell Arenas and Annalyn Lavitoria are among the total 2.3 million families that are currently benefiting from the CCT program. Of the Php21.0 billion program funds in 2011, total investments given to eligible and compliant household beneficiaries amounted to Php19.0 billion, of which Php 6.6 billion was invested for health and Php 6.4 billion for education.
DSWD Secretary Corazon Soliman admits that while the long-term goal of Pantawid Pamilya is to reduce poverty, it is not the sole solution to the problem. The convergence with other government agencies that have anti-poverty programs is seen to be more beneficial to the attainment of this goal. Cagayan Valley Congressman Juan Ponce Enrile, Jr. supports Secretary Soliman’s claim in his statement in the online article at www.goldstardailynews.com on February 8 that the CCT program should not be viewed as primary tool in fighting poverty.
The Secretary also cited external factors that contributed to the rise in hunger and poverty incidence in the SWS survey period which is beyond the control of the program and the Department. The sustained fuel and food price increase throughout 2011 was identified as one of the major factors that relate to the increase in hunger. According to statistics released by the National Statistics Office on 5 January 2012, the annual hike in food prices raised to 5.7% in 2011 from 4.2% in 2010.
This is in relation with the next contributing factor—the fact that the cash grant given by the program is not inflation-proof. This means that the amount does not increase even if the prices of daily commodities increase. The cash assistance being provided for is only meant to augment the household income for basic needs particularly health, nutrition and education as not to promote dependency on the assistance being given.
Finally, the Secretary mentioned the frequent occurrence of disasters and calamities experienced in 2011 nationwide further aggravated the severity of hunger and poverty especially among the poor. Coincidentally, the latest SWS survey was conducted in the last quarter of 2011 when most calamities such as typhoons Pedring and Quiel, floods and landslides hit the country which expectedly would yield a high number of hunger and poverty incidences.
Through Pantawid Pamilya, Annalyn has also learned to value the health of her children as she provides them with nutritious food even when she is a little short on cash. “Nilulutuan ko ang mga anak ko ng malunggay o kaya talbos ng kamote na may sardinas,” she added. (I serve my children horseradish or sweet potato sprout with sardines.)
Pantawid Pamilya is a human development program that contributes to reduction in poverty through investments in human capital. At the same time, the program provides cash grants to households for them to cope with everyday cash flow problems which are very important for poor families that have irregular or seasonal income. By prioritizing health and education needs, poor families have better chances of lifting themselves out of poverty. An additional 700,000 is targeted by the end of March to be included in the program.