'Pantawid' breaks poverty cycle: UNDP official
MANILA -- An official of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has expressed support for the Department of Social Welfare and Development's (DSWD) Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), noting its importance in "breaking the cycle of poverty" in the country.
In a meeting with DSWD Secretary Dinky Soliman, UN Undersecretary General and UNDP Associate Administrator Rebeca Grynspan said the 4Ps or the Conditional Cash Transfer Program (CCT) serves the younger generation and therefore should "not be judged in the short term but after ten years when it can demonstrate success in breaking the intergenerational cycle of poverty."
Soliman agreed and said the Pantawid Pamilya gives children from poor families a "fighting chance" to breakaway from poverty.
However, Grynspan noted that parents should also learn "how to fish" and be provided opportunities for employment.
She also suggested that the government conduct feeding programs for poor students as an incentive for them to stay in school.
This, as she stressed that the return on investment from the 4PS will come only after its beneficiaries have finished schooling.
"It is not just about feeding per se, it has a higher purpose of providing an incentive for poor children to stay in school," she said.
Grynspan, who was vice president of Costa Rica from 1994 to 1998, cited the case in her country where they provided food twice -- breakfast and lunch--in their school feeding program. This resulted in higher attendance, she said.
The UN executive also agreed with Soliman regarding the government's plan to extend the Pantawid Pamilya to high school, noting that the labor market prefers higher schooling.
The Pantawid Pamilya provides conditional cash grants to poor households to improve their health, nutrition and education, particularly of children until age 14.
Beneficiaries receive the cash grants of a maximum of P1,400 per month (P500 for health plus P900 for education) for five years as long as the conditions are complied with.
The government has already allocated around P120 billion to the Pantawid Pamilya until 2013.
Meanwhile, after being informed that the Philippines is lagging behind in the Millenium Development Goals (MDG) to improve maternal health, Grynspan suggested a package of interventions to reduce maternal mortality.
She also urged for nutrition for early childhood development.
"Encourage mothers to breastfeed until at least six months and provide alternative sources of nutrition thereafter," she said.