In light of the upcoming 2nd round of a nationwide assessment of poor families,  the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), through the ‘Listahanan’ or the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction (NHTS-PR), engaged national government agencies (NGAs) in an orientation forum last  week.

The forum aimed at enlisting their support on the assessment that will identify poor families who will be qualified to receive assistance from the government’s social protection programs and services.

Executive Order 867 series of 2010 declared the NGAs as the main data users of the Listahanan database of the poor, mandating them to use it as basis in identifying the beneficiaries of their programs and services.

Listahanan makes available to NGAs and other implementers of social protection programs a comprehensive socio-economic database of poor families identified through objective and verifiable means.

Present during the forum were representatives of the Department of Health (DOH), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Education (DepEd), Commission on Higher Education (CHED), Department of Agriculture (DA),  Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), and Department of Tourism (DOT), among others.

Some of the participants shared their testimonials on using the Listahanan database.

In her opening remarks, DSWD Undersecretary Florita R. Villar emphasized how a targeting system contributes to a good program design that will ensure efficient and effective implementation.

“Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program wouldn’t be a success if it failed to target the real poor,” said former Director Rhodora Babaran of the Pantawid Pamilya National Program Management Office.

Pantawid Pamilya is one of the biggest programs to extensively use the Listahanan, with 4 million beneficiaries identified using the database.

A World Bank study showed that about 90% of the beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilya indeed came from the bottom 40% of the population.

“The Philippines has a history of well-meaning but poorly-targeted programs to assist the poor. And this has resulted in huge sums of government resources channeled to the non-poor. No doubt these programs are well-meaning. But in the end, what matters is their impact on the lives  of the poor,” said World Bank Economist, Rashiel Velarde.

Through the Listahanan, programs and resources are given to the rightful beneficiaries.

Dr. Dennis Mapa of the University of the Philippines School of Statistics shed light on how the Listahanan will identify poor families in the 2nd round of assessment through the Proxy Means Test (PMT).

The PMT is a statistical model that estimates the income of families based on observable and verifiable household characteristics such as housing features, education, and livelihood of the household head, among others.

“Being a model, the PMT is not perfect. There are possibilities for inclusion or exclusion errors. The challenge is to keep these errors at an acceptable rate,” shared Dr. Mapa.

For the 2nd round of assessment, new features were added to the PMT model to minimize the inclusion and exclusion error rates. These include two PMT sub-models (one for the National Capital Region and one for all other regions), community variables as determinants of poverty status, and a second stage screener to flag possible inclusion errors or non-poor being included in the list of poor.

With these enhancements,  the combined inclusion and exclusion error rates declined from 22-35% in the old model to 6-19% in the new model.

Data users also have their role in ensuring that the poor are enrolled in their programs and services.

“We validate the list. We in the local government cannot simply reject those who are not in the list.  Thus, we interview and assess them,” stated Ms. Dorothy Evangelista, the City Social Welfare and Development Officer of Valenzuela City.

The Pantawid Pamilya also conducts community assemblies to validate the poverty status of their potential beneficiaries.

In his testimony, the Regional Field Coordinator of DSWD in Northern Mindanao, Ian Putong, also cited how the result of the special validation conducted after Typhoon Sendong was used in the crafting of disaster relief programs and services.

The special validation is an activity of the DSWD conducted in between nationwide assessments. ###