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Cash transfer keeping children in school

The World Bank on Wednesday said Pantawid Pamilya, the country’s conditional cash transfer program, is keeping children healthy and in school.

Ruslan Yemtsov, World Bank lead technical expert on social safety nets, said in a news briefing in Taguig City that 82 percent of the benefits of Pantawid Pamilya went to the bottom 40 percent of the Philippine population comprising the country’s poor households as well as those that were highly vulnerable to poverty.

Yemtsov led the preparation of the report The State of Social Safety Nets 2015.  Pantawid Pamilya involves distributing cash grants, ranging from P500 to P1,400 per household per month, depending on the number of eligible children.

“Poverty in the Philippines is a dynamic phenomenon and many households move in and out of poverty during the year due to factors like calamities, droughts, or the advent of the lean seasons,” Yemtsov said.

“The poor and vulnerable in the Philippines benefit from what is today one of the largest and best-targeted social safety net programs in the world,” he said.

Social safety net programs include cash and in-kind transfers targeted to poor and vulnerable households, with the goal of protecting families from the impact of economic shocks, natural disasters, and other crises; ensuring that children grow up healthy, well-fed, and can stay in school and learn; empowering women and girls; and creating jobs.

Almost 4.5 million households in the country are enrolled in the Pantawid Pamilya from only 360,000 households in 2008.

World Bank country director Motoo Konishi said the CCT grant, on average, accounted for about 11 percent of the income of the poorest recipient households.

He said the grants were very important for poor and vulnerable households. He said two rounds of rigorous impact evaluation showed that recipients used the money they received to buy food, school uniforms and school supplies for their children.

Konishi also said the impact evaluation studies showed that Pantawid Pamilya delivered on its objective, which was to keep poor children in school and healthy.

Evaluation studies also found out that enrollment among poor elementary school children increased by 5 percentage points, while secondary education enrollment increased by 7 percentage points.

The program increased pre-natal and postnatal care by 10 percentage points and increased the delivery of babies in health facilities by skilled health professionals by 20 percentage points.

Children benefited by receiving higher intake of vitamin A and iron supplementation by around 12 percentage points and by increased weight monitoring visits to health facilities by 18 percentage points.

Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman said the government was currently updating the Listahanan, the program’s poverty targeting database, to ensure that the Pantawid Pamilya continued to respond to the needs of the poor and vulnerable families. She said the updated list would be released in October this year.

“As we speak, DSWD field workers are completing the data collection to update the database. As of August, we have collected data from almost 11 million households. The target is 15.3 million, or 75 percent of all households in the Philippines,” she said.

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