Ten Philippine government departments have recently agreed to beef up efforts in order to improve the quality of life of the marginalized sectors of the society.
The convergence strategy was formalized with the recent signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) by officials of the departments of agriculture, health, agrarian reform, environment and natural resources, interior and local government, labor and employment, science and technology, social welfare and development, tourism and trade and industry (DTI).
DENR Sec.Ramon Paje said the agreement provides a holistic approach as it involves almost all line agencies to ensure a more effective and efficient implementation of programs on poverty alleviation, job creation, food security, and healthy and safe environment.
Paje said the agreement was consistent with the existing national convergence initiative for sustainable rural development among the DENR, DA and DAR, which focuses on shared responsibility in sustainable development of natural resources and communities in the country’s rural areas.
“The agreement is an expanded convergence that ensures our programs and projects, particularly those for community-based sustainable livelihood and enterprise development, will be complementary, harmonized and therefore more inclusive to a wide swath of society,” Paje said.
The agreement also identifies priority and high-impact programs and projects from each of the 10 agencies that have common interests and objectives, particularly those aimed at alleviating poverty in municipalities.
The National Greening Program – which seeks to plant trees on 1.5 million hectares for six years ending in 2016 – was identified as the DENR’s main contribution to the convergence, with its various activities as support to poverty alleviation, food security and climate change mitigation.
Among these activities are site identification and development, seedling production and plant propagation, adoption of environment-friendly technologies, provision of planting materials and technical assistance, and conduct of monitoring and evaluation.
Other government projects identified in the new convergence program include the Agri-Pinoy Program of the DA, the Program Beneficiaries Development of DAR, the Enhancing Economic Growth and Competitiveness of Local Government Units Program of the DILG, and the Integrated Livelihood Program towards Community Enterprise Development of the DOLE.
The DOLE is also tasked to assist trainees of its attached agency, the Technical Education and Skills Development Training (TESDA), in creating community-based sustainable livelihood and enterprises.
Other contributing programs are the DOST’s Small Enterprises Technology Upgrading Program; the Sustainable Livelihood Program, particularly through the Micro-Enterprise Development Track or the Employment Facilitation Track of the DSWD; and the DTI’s National Industry Cluster Capacity Enhancement Project.
The agreement directs the DOH, through the Food and Drug Administration, to ensure the safety, efficacy, purity and quality of all regulated products through monitoring of all covered establishments.
The DOT, on the other hand, is directed to develop training modules and conduct training programs to upgrade the quality, competence and excellence in the delivery of tourism services.
The agreement is the latest initiative to implement Pres.Benigno S Aquino III’s “social contract” with Filipinos to reduce poverty incidence by building capacities and creating opportunities, while recognizing the vital role of farms and community-based enterprises in contributing to food security and economic growth.