COTABATO CITY/MANILA – A social protection programme being implemented by the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), has gone beyond cash aid distribution and is set to strengthen social protection in the region by providing technical support to the development of a system for identifying the most vulnerable and at-risk population.
The Joint Programme on Shock-Responsive Social Protection (JPSRSP) builds on social protection programmes implemented by the BARMM to ease poverty in the region. Launched in 2020, the JPSRSP addresses the risks and vulnerabilities that the Bangsamoro people, especially the poorest, most vulnerable and marginalized, face in times of natural and human-induced disasters, that perpetuate the cycle of poverty.
BARMM Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim said, “These systems should be in place not just during a pandemic but because of Mindanao’s vulnerability to adverse impacts of natural hazards and even human-induced incidents. We have to be prepared and to make sure that our people are protected at all times.”
“This is the essence of a ‘risk-informed shock responsive social protection system’ which the BARMM is reinforcing in partnership with UN agencies,” said Gustavo Gonzalez, United Nations (UN) Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator in the Philippines. “The JPSRSP enhances BARMM’s existing social protection systems to better target and deliver assistance before and immediately after a crises becomes a full blown disaster.”
The JPSRSP focuses on three key interventions, which include mainstreaming risk-informed shock responsive social protection in the Bangsamoro Development Plan (BRDP); building capacity of BARMM institutions to analyze and monitor both natural and human-induced risks and improve synergy; and improving the poverty registry system to include risk and hazard vulnerability assessments, predictive analytics, inclusive targeting and effective monitoring.”
In the one year since the joint programme started, the JP worked with the Ministry of Social Services and Development (MSSD) which was then starting to lay down the design of its own poverty and disaster registry. MSSD is designing the registry to provide a more comprehensive information on the situation of households and takes into account the context of the BARMM region. UNICEF provided technical support on the poverty registry instruments and management information systems.
Vulnerability Risk Assessment and Mapping (VRAM) is being undertaken to map out the vulnerabilities of BARMM communities and to identify the types of risks and how these risks affect the welfare of the marginalized population and their livelihoods. FAO, in partnership with the Ministry of the Interior and Local Government (MILG) and the Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO), will survey 1,680 households across BARMM, including the Special Geographic Areas. The overlay of this information allows BARMM to design risk informed and shock responsive social protection that is well targeted and relevant to the different contexts of the region.
In addition, together with the Bangsamoro Planning and Development Authority (BPDA), FAO reviewed the Bangsamoro Investment Development Plan to provide a training platform for key Ministries in making and implementing relevant policies. In addition, the JPSRSP complemented the government’s COVID19 response by providing emergency cash transfers to 1,800 poor families who were excluded from SAP and 4Ps.
The joint programme’s innovations have generated interest from development partners to scale up and sustain its gains. The European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), which channels relief assistance from the European Union (EU), has been supporting the Philippines’ social protection agenda, particularly through the development of the Roadmap on Shock-Responsive Social Protection. In BARMM, ECHO continues to collaborate with the UN to increase capacities and scale for anticipatory action through social protection systems to protect development gains against shocks.
The Government of Australia is providing additional resources to upscale this joint programme to build on and expand the work, particularly in enhancing BARMM’s cash delivery systems, by supporting relevant initiatives on cash transfer beneficiary database management systems and providing emergency cash transfers. The scaling up also allows for more engagement in other forms of social protection, beyond cash transfers, that are compatible with BARMM’s social protection landscape, such as agriculture and asset insurance.
“The Australian Government is pleased to support a scaling up of the UN Joint Programme in BARMM as it is contributing to a more equal and inclusive economy and society. This is a key objective of Australia’s Partnership for Recovery in the Philippines, including in BARMM. Importantly, the UN Joint Programme will help build longer-term resilience by bringing together development partners and the BARMM Government to strengthen risk-informed and shock-responsive systems which respond to unique challenges and needs,” said Thanh Le PSM, Counsellor for Development, Australian Embassy in the Philippines.
“With mechanisms and policies in place that support social protection, next year BARMM will be in a position to implement at least two shock-responsive social protection programmes that will be able to cover 63 percent of its total population, as well as 26,000 combatants,” said González.
The JPSRSP is supported by the Joint SDG Fund, a UN multi-partner trust fund. This means contributions it receives are not entity-specific, but aim to support broader UN system-level functions. This type of pooled funding used by multi-partner trust funds, like the Joint SDG Fund is widely considered ‘multilateralism-friendly’ – and is much more suitable for the integrated support at scale essential for achieving the SDGs. The Joint SDG Fund’s flexibility in reallocating funds has also proven critical for rapid responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Through the Joint SDG Fund, the JPSRSP is supported by a number of countries, namely, Australia, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK and the European Union.