Changing Lives through Social Protection Reform
The resilience of Filipino families has been put to the test during the COVID-19 pandemic. Already endangered by environmental hazards and disasters, and now with condition exacerbated by the health and socio-economic impacts of the pandemic, more and more Filipinos are subsisting day by day.
With the poor, vulnerable, and disadvantaged bearing the brunt of the crisis, social protection – the protection and promotion of people’s welfare to mitigate further risks – has been a major priority of the Philippine Government and development partners like Australia.
Since 2011, Australia has supported the Philippines’ social protection reform agenda through the provision of expert technical assistance to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) via multilateral development partners. With Australia’s support, UNICEF, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank have provided advisory services, undertaken extensive research and impact evaluation studies, contributed to policy formulation, and have helped build the capacity of DSWD to meet the needs of social protection beneficiaries.
Together, these contributions have helped improve the effective and efficient implementation of social protection programs in the Philippines, which have proven even more critical since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
One initiative that has benefitted significantly from the partnership between DSWD, the Australian Government, and multilateral development partners is the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) – the flagship poverty alleviation program in the Philippines. The 4Ps program provides cash assistance to address families’ short-term needs, takes steps to ensure that children remain healthy and in school, and invests in human capital to break the intergenerational cycle of poverty through Family and Youth Development Sessions.
Mr. Jerry Medalba, a single parent from Balamban, Cebu, shared, “I have five children – and it is not easy to raise them alone. But despite my shortcomings, I am able to be a good a parent to them with the help of the [4Ps] program.”
“I never missed the scheduled Family Development Sessions. I learned a lot from it and try to apply what I learned, especially from sessions that discuss family effectiveness,” he added.
Ms. Melba, another 4Ps beneficiary, adds “I have learned a lot about taking care of my family, being a responsible parent, and family planning from the program. These are valuable lessons which I intend to pass on to my children.”
Inputs from beneficiaries have greatly helped in assessing the effectiveness of the 4Ps program, including its impact on their family wellbeing and relationships, home and financial management, and addressing parenting issues.
“I am grateful that we were able to continue with the Family Development Sessions despite the quarantine measures,” said Mrs Rosa Rodriguez, a 4Ps beneficiary from Majayjay, Laguna.
“Because of the sessions, my family was prepared when the pandemic struck. One of the learnings from the sessions which stuck with me was to save money as we do not know the problems we will face in the future,” shared Rosa.
“Even though my husband lost his job at the start of the pandemic and our family’s source of income was suddenly gone, we were still able to provide for our family’s needs because of our savings” she said. Her peers in the town of Majayjay have similar stories of resilience in the face of adversity, supported by the 4Ps program.