The provincial government’s planning arm is conducting a province-wide survey to measure the impact thus far of its poverty alleviation programs, anticipating a reduction on their previous estimate of a high 56 percent poverty incidence it determined three years ago.
Ninfa Rubio, head of the Provincial Planning and Development Office (PPDO), told Palawan News they were estimating the poverty incidence to slide down from a high of 50 percent to 30 percent but admitted that the pandemic that began in March may have affected their targets.
“Ang target talaga by 2022 ay at least bumaba sa 25 percent ang ating poverty rate. Ang estimate namin before pandemic ay nasa 30 percent plus na lang kasi maraming program. But we expect that many households will again slide down to poverty due to the economic impact of the pandemic,” she said.
The administration had targeted its Community Based Gender and Development (CB-GAD) program to impact the province’s most remote areas where poverty incidence is high, particularly among the indigenous communities where poverty indicators are at its highest.
“Marami tayong kababayan sa kabundukan pa kaya talagang sinusuyod ‘yon. Nagsu-survey kami ngayon kasi baka bumaba, makikita natin kapag natapos na,” Rubio said.
The CB-GAD Program, through its Livelihood Enhancement Project Component for 2017 and 2019, targeted agriculture, food security and nutrition and jobs for poor households as a strategy to address poverty in the province.
The program claims to have formed some 289 community-based organizations comprising of 5,778 families across 52 barangays of Palawan.
The PPDO also conducted an IP profiling in 2017 to identify the number of the IP families as well as the poor families. It was this study that reflected a 56 percent poverty incidence in the province.
PPDO’s study showed that the target communities for the intervention of the provincial government are the IP and marginalized sector in towns of Brooke’s Point, Bataraza, Rizal, Quezon, Sofronio Espanola, Narra, Aborlan, Balabac, Roxas, Taytay, El Nido, Dumaran, Araceli, San Vicente, Coron, Culion, Busuanga, Linapacan, Agutaya, Cuyo and Magsaysay. The highlights of its findings are:
- 30 percent of the households still rely on unsafe drinking water such as dugwells, spring, streams and rivers.
- Only 35 percent of the households have no access to the electricity, they are only rely on gas lamps and batteries.
- 37 percent of the Palawenos are unable to access medical assistance or services provided by the government.
- 62 percent of the Palaweno households have a monthly income ranging from P6,000 and below or a family with five members rely for P40 per day to survive.
- 45 percent of the households are unemployed. Some of them rely on fishing, farming, laborers or gathering forest products.
- 16 percent of household heads are illiterate, 39 percent not finished elementary.
- 50 percent of the Palaweno households are vulnerable to the natural or man-made disasters because they used light materials on their roofs and outer walls of their dwelling units.
To date, there are 62,178 indigenous peoples (IPs) in southern Palawan. IP profiling shows that most of them engage in mixed production systems, including swidden farming, settled agriculture, hunting and gathering, livestock raising, and fishing.
IPs also classified as among the poorest and most marginalized groups in the province.
“From there, makikita talaga natin na maraming mahihirap. By experience, makikita na kahit tsinelas mo ay ibibigay mo sa kanila. Talagang grabi, kapag pumupunta kami doon ay nagdadala kami ng mga damit,” Rubio said.
“Nakita ko na mayroong kakain na ang ulam ay ang tag-limang piso na mga chichiria,” she added.
The provincial government is seeking to step up it poverty alleviation program by its adoption of the New Banua Institute for Resiliency and Green Growth Program. According to Rubio, this program aims to address and prioritize interventions to the rural communities to eliminate poverty among Palawenos.
Under this program, the town of Bataraza that is prominent with its pineapple will soon to have its dried fruits processing and products will be sold in tourist destinations such as Bangkok, Thailand and powdered vegetable nutritional packs from Brooke’s Point which may use in health and nutrition programs of the provincial government in addressing malnutrition in the province.
In northern Palawan, PPDO targets aquaculture in town of Dumaran and fish-based products in San Vicente, seaweed chip in Roxas.
“Ang banwa may layon na magbuo ng mga grupo sa mga munisipyo na wala halos pinakakakitaan, walang industry. Para na rin matulungan ang mga kababayan natin at para sabay-sabay na magkaroon ng kumabaga identity [products] ang bawat munisipyo,” she said.
Rubio said that this products are initially intended to tourism industry.
“Supposedly, para talaga ‘yan sa turismo natin kaya lang nagkaroon tayo ng COVID-19. Ngayon mayroon kaming five Banwa centers sa Bataraza, Brooke’s Point, Aborlan, Roxas, and San Vicente,” she said.
“This program was conceptualized para matulungan ang mga kababayan natin,” Rubio said.
Rubio added that social enterprises are in the initial stage of development which respective local government unit will secure a lot for the construction of a multi-purpose venue and a processing plant.
The Department of Science and Technology has provided the capital for the processing equipment together with the bayan academy who provide trainings.
“Marami tayong partners d’yan at kapag established na ‘yan ay aalis na provincial government, nandyan muna tayo to provide initial capital, coordinate with partners and to ensure na tayo ang consolidator ng products para hindi sila mawalan ng pag-asa, naghahanap tayo ng market,” Rubio said.
Rubio said that Palawan Governor Jose Alvarez also directed their office to conceptualize possible interventions for the IPs, which include goat production.
Goat has been identified as one of the livestock projects that may contribute additional income to poor families.
She said that they are also planning to make a partnership with the Department of Agriculture (DA).
“Ang aim talaga ay to gain back the trust ng mga tao, mag-tiwala lang sila sa government. Ngayon ang target naman namin ay DA,” she said.
Aside from this, Rubio said that the under the livelihood enhancement assistance, PPDO conducts orientation-seminar to identified poor communities for the livelihood program of the provincial government such as goat production, napier grass production, financial assistance to the existing traditional sources of income of the IPs such as handcraft making, mat weaving, salt production, dried fish processing, and shrimp paste making.
The livelihood assistance is given in the form of cash worth P30,000 per household and training or orientation on the entrepreneurship development , business planning, productivity improvement, and workers’ safety and health.