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PIDS Updates

THURSDAY / 21 JULY 2016
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IN FOCUS: Nutrition
and Inclusive Growth

The first 1,000 days from conception to two years old is a critical window for shaping the health of young children and the long-term health of society. When poor children at this stage of their lives experience chronic undernutrition, stunting manifests, meaning they grow to a height well below the standards for their age. Experts say the consequences are dire and long term. Nutritional issues such as stunting weaken their learning capabilities and dim their school performance, make them more vulnerable to chronic diseases in the future, and dent their economic productivity.

Despite its extensive number of nutrition and health intervention programs, the Philippines has much to do to substantially curb childhood stunting. According to a study by the Department of Science and Technology’s Food Nutrition Research Institute in 2015, one-third of children under five years of age or around 3.78 million Filipino children are affected by childhood stunting. More alarmingly, a study by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) concluded that the country has had little progress in reducing stunting prevalence in the past two decades. According to PIDS Consultant Alejandro N. Herrin, author of the study, the issue is not the lack of national policies but more on the weak implementation of nutrition programs. He noted that targeting of beneficiaries, coordination with other agencies, management structures, logistics, and sustainability are among the critical issues that need to be addressed. Structural issues, such as problems in local mobilization, limited resources, and difficulties in organizational coordination, also impede the progress of these programs.

Herrin recommended putting the goal of preventing childhood stunting at “the forefront of the national nutrition agenda”. As a critical item of the national nutrition agenda, the problem of childhood stunting would receive the adequate strategic focus it needs to help policymakers and project implementers develop and carry out more cost-effective interventions.

Meanwhile, weaknesses in program implementation were revealed in the impact evaluation done by PIDS for the Department of Education’s School-Based Feeding Program (SBFP). The SBFP is a targeted intervention to reduce wasting, which is another nutritional deficiency that is a strong predictor of mortality among children under five. Severely wasted children are those who are too thin for their height. PIDS Consultant Ana Maria Tabunda and Senior Research Fellow Jose Ramon Albert, authors of the study, found that the SBFP was generally implemented well, with majority of the school heads, teachers, and parents showing appreciation for the program and many of them expressing a desire to see it continued, and if possible, expanded. However, they pointed out the need for proper documentation of the SBFP. While conducting the study, they discovered inaccuracies in the recorded nutritional status, such as age, height, and weight measurements of children in public schools. They also recommended the need for government to complement the SBFP with other programs to correct malnutrition practices among children below five years old.

A well-nourished and healthy workforce is essential in achieving sustained and inclusive growth. Investing in people’s health, particularly among children, yields high and long-lasting returns for individuals as well as to society.

Know what other PIDS studies have to say about nutrition and inclusive growth. Visit the SocioEconomic Research Portal for the Philippines. Simply type “health service delivery”, “childhood stunting”, “maternal and child care”, “micronutrients”, “health and nutrition”, and related terms in the Search box.

Are there Regional Variations in the Utilization of Maternal and Child Care Services across Income Groups?
Are Maternal and Child Care Programs Reaching the Poorest Regions in the Philippines?
What Is the Impact of DepED's School-Based Feeding Program?
Results of an Impact Evaluation Study on DepED's School-Based Feeding Program
Food Consumption Patterns of Pregnant Women And Children (ECD Baseline Indicators Survey)
A Better Start in Life: Evaluation Results from an Early Childhood Development Program
Child Health Care Demand In A Developing Country: Unconditional Estimates From the Philippines
Feeding Severely Wasted Children in School: Examining Processes in DepED's School Feeding Program
• Who Weans with Commodity Price Shocks? Rice Prices and Breastfeeding in the Philippines

EVENTS

08 AUGUST 2016
How to Increase Heights in Short Populations such as the Philippines
Venue: PIDS Conference Room, 18th Floor, Three Cyberpod Centris - North Tower, EDSA corner Quezon Avenue, Quezon City

20 JULY 2016
Addressing Transient Poverty: Evaluation of the Agricultural Insurance Program of the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC)
Venue: PIDS Conference Room, 18th Floor, Three Cyberpod Centris - North Tower, EDSA corner Quezon Avenue, Quezon City

07 JULY 2016
Seminar on Innovations for Poverty Action's Randomized Controlled Trial of the International Care Ministries Ultra Poor Program
Venue: PIDS Conference Room, 18th Floor, Three Cyberpod Centris - North Tower, EDSA corner Quezon Avenue, Quezon City

15 JUNE 2016
Process Evaluation of the Health Facilities Enhancement Program
Venue: PIDS Conference Room, 18th Floor, Three Cyberpod Centris - North Tower, EDSA corner Quezon Avenue, Quezon City
(WATCH THE SEMINAR VIDEO HERE)

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VISITS

World Bank experts on labor policy visit PIDS office
15 June 2016

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Philippine and Thai economic experts discuss trade opportunities in ASEAN
23 May 2016

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Malacañang turns over APEC Policy Tools to PIDS
26 April 2016

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NEW PUBLICATIONS

DEVELOPMENT RESEARCH NEWS

This second issue of the DRN features an article penned by PIDS President Dr. Gilberto Llanto--his well-meaning advice to President-elect Rodrigo Duterte. According to Llanto, a fundamental challenge for the incoming administration is to translate its eight-point economic agenda into rational, coherent, and well-studied economic policies. He also underscored the importance of clear policy statements, policy coherence, and careful study and sufficient empirical evidence as basis for any policy decision to achieve the administration’s economic goals for the country.

This issue also discusses the results of PIDS’ impact evaluation of health and nutrition programs. The studies reveal the programs’ weaknesses that must be addressed by the program implementers, such as poor targeting of beneficiaries under the Sustainable Livelihood Program and inadequacy of funding in the Health Facilities Enhancement Program. Articles on the forums conducted during the period and the inclusion of UP President Dr. Alfredo Pascual into the PIDS Board of Trustees complete the issue. Click here for the full article

 

POLICY NOTES

This Policy Note is the result of an institutional analysis and process evaluation of the National Greening Program (NGP), which was established to address deforestation and denudation of public lands. The program, which targeted the planting of 1.5 billion trees in 1.5 million hectares, reached a survival rate above its targeted 85-percent rate. The policy goal for the next stage is to create long-term sustainability of the program’s successes. The Note proposes some elements of a subsequent program, if needed, after the NGP. They include setting up a system of incentives and disincentives for failure to reach targets, rationalizing the functions and reorganizing the Forestry Management Bureau and the Biodiversity Management Bureau, and placing the subsequent NGP under the Cabinet Cluster on Climate Change. Click here for the full article.

The National Greening Program (NGP) was implemented in 2011 to increase reforestation and address related problems on poverty, food security, environmental stability and biodiversity conservation, and climate change. This Policy Note assesses the potential economic and poverty effects of the NGP using the computable general equilibrium (CGE) model. The CGE model was specified, calibrated, and used to simulate three scenarios. Results from the quantitative assessment showed that under full NGP implementation, forest cover increases by 1.5 million hectares by 2050, decline in agriculture land productivity is prevented, and human health improves thereby preventing a decrease in labor supply. However, this Note indicates that while full implementation of the NGP generates notable poverty reduction in the long run, partial implementation of the program is more realistic and likely to be achieved based on past reforestation programs of the country. Click here for the full article.

 

DISCUSSION PAPERS

Commodity market fluctuations have been linked with a number of adult outcomes. Recent evidence on the lasting impact of early life conditions, however, suggests that the effects on children may be important as well. Using large spatio-temporal variations in rice prices in the Philippines as a natural experiment, the study estimates the effect of increasing food prices on parental behavior regarding an inexpensive yet time-intensive child investment: breastmilk feeding. It documents a countercyclical relationship between breastfeeding duration and rice prices, which may be a consequence of poorer health and induced labor force participation among mothers. Results highlight that even food producers may not be insulated against food price inflation. Click here for the full article.

To avert the deterioration of Philippine forests and its negative consequences on the environment, the National Greening Program (NGP) was established as a reforestation initiative of the government in 2011–2016. This study focuses on the scoping and process evaluation of the NGP. Data are gathered from randomly chosen sites in Dinagat Islands, Zambales, and Negros Occidental. The study finds that NGP household recipients experienced some marginal increase in average real income, though it was not statistically significant. Propensity score matching results revealed that the effects of NGP on the local people have induced bigger household size, higher number of working household members, and positive perception on NGP activities. Still, there is not one strategy that would increase success. The next program on Natural Forest and Landscape Restoration Program can focus on adjustments in allocated budget for forest development per hectare, revisions of incentives appropriate in a given reforestation site, and increased support to forest protection of existing forests. Click here for the full article.

Road funds like the Motor Vehicle User's Charge (MVUC) Fund in the Philippines are a kind of earmarked funds. Earmarking funds through the MVUC continues to be relevant as it is able to ensure a stable flow of resources for public road expenditures. In assessing the MVUC process, the study finds, among others, that transparency and efficiency in collection have to be improved through automation and accurate recording. After examining five MVUC-funded projects, the authors find that an impact monitoring system is present in only one recently finished case, and the sparse data available are not enough to quantitatively establish impacts. An examination of successful cases in other countries also reveals good practices that are worth looking into, such as ensuring that the road fund administrator is strictly an administrator rather than project implementer. Click here for the full article.

Bottom-up budgeting (BUB) is a mechanism to institutionalize and incentivize grassroots participation, as represented by civil society organizations, in the planning and budgeting of their respective cities or municipalities. This paper assesses how the various participatory steps were conducted and how the selected subprojects from the previous budgeting round were being implemented. It focuses on three local government units in Camarines Sur, with various levels of development and participation in government programs. The assessment was conducted by observing the BUB activities of the study sites, conducting interviews and focus group discussions, and validating findings against secondary data. Findings on the general usefulness of the BUB, its current guidelines, and interaction with corollary government programs were highlighted, along with recommendations. Click here for the full article.

Bottom-up budgeting (BUB) is implemented to institutionalize and incentivize grassroots participation in the planning and budgeting of their respective cities or municipalities. This paper assesses how the various participatory steps were conducted and how selected subprojects from the previous budgeting round were being implemented. It focuses on three local government units in Zamboanga del Norte, with various levels of development and participation in government programs. Findings on the general usefulness of the BUB, its current guidelines, and interaction with corollary government programs were highlighted, along with recommendations. Click here for the full article.

Bottom-up budgeting (BUB) is a government program envisioned to institutionalize and incentivize grassroots participation in local planning and budgeting in all cities and municipalities. Based on the BUB experience in the 12 case study sites, this study argues that participation of civil society organizations in the BUB may be characterized by how local government units (LGUs) actually operationalized the key features of the BUB. Evaluation of the pace of implementation of the subprojects that are prioritized and included in the Local Poverty Reduction Action Plan of the 12 study sites for fiscal year (FY) 2013 and FY 2014 shows mixed results. While the implementation of FY 2014 BUB subprojects is faster than the implementation of FY 2013 BUB subprojects in terms of project completion, procurement, and provision of national government agency feedback to LGUs, some deterioration in the downloading of project funds is evident between these two years. Click here for the full article.

 

PRESS RELEASES

imageEADN HOLDS ANNUAL RESEARCH CONFERENCE

The East Asian Development Network (EADN) met early this month for the annual research conference to review the progress of the studies being conducted by the network's current research grantees.

The network was commended by keynote speaker Rolando Tungpalan, deputy director-general for Investment Programming at the National Economic and Development Authority, for "its continuing efforts to promote research capacity building and policy networking in the region".

The critical role played by evidence-based research in governance and public leadership, especially in the process of making public policies, is too often understated. READ MORE

imageUPGRADING FACILITIES CAN BOOST QUALITY AND USE OF HEALTH SERVICES -- PIDS

Building more health facilities and investing in medical equipment allow government hospitals and infirmaries to provide quality health services to more people.

In a study conducted by state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies evaluating the Health Facilities Enhancement Program (HFEP) of the government, it was noted that hospitals and infirmaries that received funding from the government to upgrade their facilities showed higher volume of services than those that did not.

The HFEP, which is being implemented by the Department of Health, is a major undertaking under the Aquino administration's flagship health initiative called Kalusugan Pangkalahatan that aims to achieve universal health care for all Filipinos. Through building and equipping public health facilities, the government hopes to keep up with the increasing population's demand for health care. READ MORE

imageTARGETING OF BENEFICIARIES OF EMPLOYMENT FACILITATION PROGRAM UNDER 4Ps MUST BE IMPROVED, STUDY SAYS

A recent impact evaluation study by state think Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) said the mechanism for choosing beneficiaries of the Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP), a component of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), must be improved to enhance gains from the program.

According to PIDS OIC Vice-President Marife Ballesteros and Senior Research Fellow Aniceto Orbeta, the employment facilitation program has been well-received by its target participants. It is also regarded by many participants as a critical conduit for their employment. However, they noted that aside from the limitations of employment facilitation, the program also has poor targeting mechanism.

The overall objective of SLP is to help beneficiaries of 4Ps increase their income, become more self-sufficient, and graduate from the 4Ps. The first track of the program involves microenterprise development, which focuses on providing assistance and resources for beneficiaries to build and expand their businesses. READ MORE

DATABASE UPDATE

INFLATION RATE

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The year-on-year headline inflation rate accelerated to 1.6 percent in May, from 1.1 percent in April. Interestingly, as noted in the press release of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the higher annual increments were noted in the indices of food and non-alcoholic beverages; alcoholic beverages and tobacco; clothing and footwear; furnishing, household equipment, and routine maintenance of the house; health; transport; communication; recreation and culture; restaurant; and miscellaneous goods and services. Likewise, the core inflation rate went up to 1.6 percent, from 1.5 percent a month ago.

Source: PSA

The latest regional data on year-on-year inflation rate is now available on the Economic and Social Database section of the PIDS website. Please refer to this link: http://econdb.pids.gov.ph/tablelists/table/876


GROSS INTERNATION RESERVES

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The country's gross international reserves (GIR) reached USD 83.51 billion as of end of May. This marks a decline by USD 0.23 billion from USD 83.74 billion as of end of April. The GIR remains ample as it can cover 10.4 months' worth of imports of goods and payments of services and income.

Source: Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (Based on preliminary data)

VIEW TABLE for the time-series data on GIR.

 

EXCHANGE RATE

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The average peso-dollar exchange rate went up to PHP 46.802 to USD 1.00 in May, from PHP 46.285 in April. This is higher compared to PHP 44.611 in the same period last year.

Source: Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas

VIEW TABLE for the time-series data on monthly average peso-dollar exchange rate.

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