Philippines gets US$450-M World Bank grant

WB logoThe Philippines’ conditional cash transfer (CCT) program got a boost with a US$450-million grant assistance from the World Bank.

The Social Welfare Development and Reform Project II (SWDRP2) will contribute to the government’s financing of health and education grants for CCT beneficiaries nationwide from 2016 to 2019, covering about seven percent of the total cost of the program’s implementation.

Pantawid Pamilya or conditional cash transfer program is a social safety net program that helps ensure children grow up healthy and stay in school. Under the program, poor pregnant mothers receive regular health checks.

By targeting poor and vulnerable households, the program also helps protect them from the impact of economic shocks, natural disasters and other crises.  It currently benefits more than 4 million poor families with 11 million Filipino children.

Social Welfare and Development Secretary Corazon Soliman said the “Pantawid Pamilya, a long-term investment helps reduce the vulnerability of families to sudden economic difficulties and contributes to breaking the inter-generational poverty by helping today’s children become productive members of society.

After only a few years of implementation, we are already seeing its tangible benefits to poor Filipinos. With continuing support from development partners like the World Bank, we can sustain our momentum toward reducing poverty and inequality.”

Recent studies show that the program has reduced the total poverty and food poverty among CCT beneficiaries by up to 6.7 percentage points. At the national level, estimates show the program reduced both total poverty and food poverty by up to 1.4 percentage points in 2013.

Soliman said the CCT program is delivering on its education and health objectives – enrollment among poor elementary school children increased by five percentage points, while secondary education enrollment increased by seven percentage points.

The program increased prenatal 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 increased weight monitoring visits to health facilities by 18 percentage points.

World Bank Acting Philippine country director Cecilia Vales said the World Bank is steadfast in its commitment and support for the CCT because we believe it contributes to reducing extreme poverty and inequality.

“Combined with high and sustained economic growth, CCT as a social safety net provides an equitable foundation for growth that works for the poor.”

The Philippines’ CCT program has grown into one of the largest and best-targeted social safety net programs in the world, with 82 percent of the benefits going to the bottom 40 percent of the country’s population.

Globally, more than 1.9 billion people in 136 low- and middle-income countries benefit from social safety net programs like the CCT.