MANILA — The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) will conduct in the last quarter of the year a 2nd nationwide assessment to identify “poor” and “near poor” families needing assistance of anti-poverty programs and services.
This was announced by the DSWD Friday during a press briefing at the La Breza Hotel in Quezon City.

According to DSWD Secretary Corazon J. Soliman, the assessment will be undertaken under the DSWD’s project dubbed as “Listahanan” or the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction (NHTS-PR).

The project is in line with DSWD’s goal to lift the threshold poverty of the 11 million Filipinos by 2016 as part of the Millenium Development Goal (MDG).

“Through ‘Listahanan’ we will be able to identify and assess who and where the poor are as a reference in identifying potential recipients of DSWD’s social protection program by 2014 onwards,” said Secretary Soliman.

Soliman said that for a period of three months starting October, the assessment will cover 15.3 million households estimated from the 2010 Census of Population results for both rural areas and pocket of poverty in urban areas. They will be saturated to get comprehensive information about the poor and near poor families.

Soliman said it is part of the continuing effort to ensure that poor families will be able to eventually achieve “self-sufficiency level” and be productive members of the society instead of sinking further to poverty.

“We believe that with their inclusion to 4Ps (Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program), the children of every family that acquired health and educational benefits will have chances to have better lives by having opportunity to be hired in jobs with higher pay that will generate them better income for their future as productive members of the society,” Soliman said.

Listahanan will be using Proxy Means Test (PMT), a statistical formula that estimates family income based on observable family characteristics.

Sec. Soliman said that for this year’s assessment, the DSWD will us android tablets instead of paper and pencil as the primary date collection tool in urban areas.

“The use of tablets as data collection tool and encoding device will minimize the risk of losing the family assessment forms (FAF) during shipment and expedite the data collection process in urban areas,” she said.

Soliman also said the test will not directly ask how much income is being earned by potential beneficiary because their answers will vary if they know they can derive something out of it either by declaring low or higher income.

For such reason, DSWD undersecretary for Policy and Programs Florita Villar cited that non-income variables such as housing features, family assets, access to water and sanitation facilities will be used as income predictors.

“Such will serve also as determinants that will weigh and categorize the potential beneficiaries as ‘poor’ and ‘near poor’,” Villar added.

Villar also added family members’ occupation will be classified under 431 specific categories consistent with Philippine Standard Occupation Classification (PSOC).

Soliman also added that under the 2nd assessment, the “near poor” will have free access to PhilHealth coverage and will be receiving benefits extended to 4Ps beneficiaries.

Other services that DSWD will implement to “near-poor” will be based on their assessment findings and in the areas or provinces where they are and the kind of works or skills they know and engaged with which the DSWD will try to support in convergence with other government agencies.

“It can also be in the form of livelihood programs, job procurement among others,” said Soliman.

Listahanan has a total budget requirement of P1.9 billion.

In some areas, she added that have no reliable internet connection, data collectors and validators will continue using paper and pencil.

Once done with the project, the tablets used under the Listahanan will be turned over to National Statistics Office (NSO) to help in facilitating the agency’s data collection requirement in its office.

She also added that data that DSWD will be collected, assessed and validated will also be shared or be made available to other government agencies that will target the poor as beneficiaries in their other programs.

In preparation for the upcoming assessment, DSWD will be hiring 47,644 field staffs comprised of 31,908 enumerators for one month, 6,383 area supervisors for two months, 1,277 area coordinators for three months, 4,038 encoders, and 4,038 verifiers for one month.

These staffs will undergo rigorous training and will deployed in different provinces and municipalities and cities all over the country.

Soliman said that in their efforts to ensure that only the qualified “poor” and the “near poor” will be recipients, the DSWD will deploy staffs in areas they are not familiar with to prevent “pressures” or influential people from putting in names of “undeserving” beneficiaries.

It may be recalled that in 2009, 10.9 million households were assessed resulting in the identification of some 5.25 million as poor. (Philippine News Agency)