DAVAO CITY – Two agencies of the United Nations (UN) are leading the implementation of the new social protection system in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao in a bid to provide aid to target sectors in the region in times of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis.
The risk-informed shock-responsive social protection (RISR SP) joint program, which is funded by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Fund, will be implemented by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), along with the Bangsamoro Government, and will last until the early part of 2022.
The program focuses on three key interventions, which include “mainstreaming risk informed shock responsive social protection in the Bangsamoro Development Plan (BRDP); building capacity of BARMM institutions to analyze and monitor both natural and human-induced risks and improve synergy and; improving the poverty registry system to include risk and hazard vulnerability assessments, predictive analytics, inclusive targeting and effective monitoring.”
Based on the document detailing the program’s background, the RISR SP “has the potential to directly benefit the existing 396,000 Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) households beneficiaries in BARMM during emergencies, and cover additional 10 percent of the 2 exclusion error of Listahanan 3 to receive social assistance during emergencies, thus enabling the horizontal expansion of social assistance programs.
“The projected 10-percent additional households may include women, children, rural workers, and Indigenous Peoples; and members of the former combatants to be determined upon the release of Listahanan 3,” it added.
“We are working to ensure that when our brothers and sisters in BARMM suffer a setback in their lives and risk losing their livelihood, they will not fall deeper into poverty. This is the main objective of this joint program on social protection,” said Gustavo Gonzalez, UN Resident Coordinator in the Philippines during the virtual launching of the social protection program on Thursday afternoon.
“What we expect is that, thanks to this program, they will be able to continue to feed their families and send their children to school. In other words, they will become more resilient in the face of major shocks in their lives,” he added.
“So we are bringing in this case UNICEF and FAO. We are bringing these two agencies to work with BARMM agencies and to make sure that what we are saying now in terms of building resilience becomes a reality,” he said.
For her part, Oyunsaikhan Dendevnorov, UNICEF Representative to the Philippines, the high number of children living in poverty in BARMM shows why the region should be given support.
“BARMM’s number of children living in poverty is the highest in the country, 68 percent of children in BARMM live in poverty. That’s actually 1.3 million children. This number by itself tells they need special support in elevating them from poverty,” she said.
“For us, we understand what’s the gravity of the situation and we understand jointly with our partners what needs to be done,” Dendevnorov added.
She said they have seen how this type of social assistance program can help families out of poverty.
“We have supporting social protection, cash transfer program in 160 countries around the world and we have global evidence that this type of social assistance program can alleviate families out of poverty,”
“If we invest even very small social assistance, cash assistance to mothers, to household head, they wisely utilize, use those resources,” she added.
Beyond COVID-19 pandemic
Xiangjun Yao, Regional Program Leader of the FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, said the program aims to support the Bangsamoro government in establishing a shock responsive social protection system.
“This system should last long. So, this definitely will go beyond the COVID pandemic, (and) also go beyond the phase of the program implementation period,” she said.
Yao said the ultimate beneficiaries of the program include the women, youth, children, small-scale farmers and fisherfolks.
She said the inventory of the program “should be introducing the good practices and the technical means to the communities and to those people who can adopt those means even before the disaster happens so they would be equipped with the skills and knowledge to get themselves prepared and ready for the disasters,” she said.
With the establishment of this system, Yao said that “the enabling environment including the policies and also other kinds of administrative and institutional arrangement will be put in place better than what it was and it is to benefit all these vulnerable people.”
BARMM Government’s Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim also expressed his hope to see the lasting impact of the program to Bangsamoro communities.
“With the partnership that we have right now, I am immensely excited for the eventual outcomes and hopefully, its lasting impact to Bangsamoro communities who desire nothing more but a more peaceful life with opportunities that lie ahead for them,” he said.