Philippines 20 Poorest Provinces

Bohol may be safely out of Club 20 – the country’s 20 poorest provinces as of 2006, according to the poverty incidence ranking of provinces by the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) but, Gov. Erico Aumentado said, it does not follow that all families here have already escaped from the fetters of poverty.

As such, the provincial government set a poverty reduction and development initiatives fair – a marketplace of development innovations for Bohol – this Thursday, October 16, at the Bohol Cultural Center in Tagbilaran City.

Aumentado will deliver the welcome address while Country Director Neeraj Jain of the Asian Development Bank (DBP) in the Philippines will keynote the fair. Agriculture Sec. Arthur Yap, Social Welfare Secretary Esperanza Cabral and Chief Ray O.O. Inije, Nigerian Ambassador to the Philippines will give messages.

Lawyer John Titus Vistal, provincial planning officer, will give the fair’s rationale and expected outcomes and present the project highlights for each Bohol Integrated Area Development (BIAD) cluster.

Catigbian Mayor Roberto Salinas, vice president of the Bohol chapter of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP-Bohol), will lead the pledge against poverty while Vice Gov. Julius Caesar Herrera will give the closing remarks.

The comprehensive project profile that Vistal prepared said the activity aims to provide local government units (LGUs) with a concrete opportunity to access external resources and leverage LGU funds for external development assistance for poverty reduction projects that respond to extreme levels of deprivation.

He said after the poverty fair on October 16-17 last year, the donor’s forum gave rise to recommendations that projects should focus on poverty interventions and include other development thrusts such as eco-tourism and agro-industry.

These projects should have expansive coverage across several towns within the BIAD partnerships or with other BIADs so that for their effective management, donors will not be dealing with individual proponent towns which could be rather tedious.

All LGUs will be tapped to identify and develop project proposals intended for marketing during the fair. In turn, national government agencies (NGAs) and non-government organizations (NGOs) operating in the province will be tapped to provide technical assistance in the preparation of the project proposals.

This year’s edition is an expanded version of the first two fairs, carried out by Bohol in its continued efforts towards poverty reduction and economic growth throughout the island province, in support of the national development goals and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of the United Nations, which aim to halve extreme poverty all over the world by 2015.

Aumentado says while Bohol has met with considerable success in reducing poverty incidence, “we realize that we cannot fully address poverty without achieving economic growth for every Boholano household. We are therefore pursuing this new focus of economic growth with great vigor.”

He also takes pride that Bohol has developed the Local Poverty Reduction Action Plan (LPRAP), now called the Poverty Database Monitoring System (PDMS) where, at the click of a mouse, donors can see the poverty situation of the province – like what basic services does an LGU lack and the degree of deprivation it suffers, among others – down to the household level.

The poverty situation using the PDMS will be highlighted during the fair. After the program, prospective donors – ADB, Nigeria, the Departments of Agriculture (DA) and Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) included – can start booth-hopping to “project-shop.” – By June Blanco

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