International expert OKs conditional cash transfer program

Published by rudy Date posted on November 22, 2010

MANILA, Philippines—An international expert on Monday said effective implementation of the conditional cash transfer program is critical to addressing extreme hunger and poverty suffered by 4 million Filipino families.

In a news release, Tarcisio Castaneda, an expert on social protection and international adviser on poverty, said CCT (now known as 4Ps) empowers extremely poor families to seek access to the government’s health and education services, which in the long run can lift them up from abject poverty.

Castaneda, who conducted extensive impact of CCT programs in Latin American and Asian countries, said the program’s key requirement for poor families to access health and education services in exchange for cash assistance should not be viewed as sanctions. In fact, these conditions are aimed to “empower them to better their living conditions and immediately get access to cash assistance.”

He said CCT in essence helps the country fulfill its commitment to the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (MDG) that include eradication of extreme hunger and poverty, access to maternal and child health care, and universal access to primary education.

“ The CCT program’s safety net component aims to provide social assistance for short term poverty reduction but in the long run eradicates poverty by building the capacity of children of poor families to complete schooling and improve health conditions, which is considered a huge investment in human capital,” said Castaneda.

He said countries that have successfully implemented CCT programs to address poverty include Mexico, Colombia, and Brazil.

Castaneda said the key designs of the CCT program is sensitive to the Filipinos’ culture and values that will enable them to comply with the conditions by having their children complete school days and undergo regular health services.

The program is also designed to reach the genuine poor beneficiaries as it follows transparency in all steps. These include beneficiary selection based on NSCB statistics, payment through LandBank, and complaints and grievances mechanism. The program also allows DSWD officers to conduct evaluation and spot checks on the beneficiaries.

“ CCT adheres to the policy that cash grants should be not too high as to discourage work effort but should not be too low as to have no effect on the poor families,” said Castaneda.

The impact of the CCT program is more “scalable” than any other poverty reduction programs, said Professor Castaneda. Some of the immediate outcomes include increased number of education years for children of poor families, increased nutrition and health outcomes, reduced child labor, and increased labor force participation of women. –

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