NGO says N. Samar, Sulu, Masbate poorest RP provinces
By Tina Arceo-Dumlao Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 17:20:00 04/12/2008
MANILA, Philippines — Northern Samar, Sulu, and Masbate are the “poorest” provinces in Philippines, according to the National Poverty Map 2007 prepared by the Peace and Equity Foundation.
In a presentation last week during the World Bank-sponsored Panibagong Paraan ‘08, PEF said the three provinces had the “most pronounced conditions of poverty” among the Philippines’ 81 provinces.
PEF ranked the provinces according to its PEF Development Index, which is based on various government poverty indicators, including the lack of housing, lack of access to clean water, sanitation facilities, incidence of malnutrition, and income level.
Following Northern Samar, Sulu and Masbate at the low end of the PEF Development Index were Basilan, Western Samar, Tawi-Tawi, Sarangani, Zamboanga Del Norte, and Negros Oriental.
In terms of poverty incidence, Zamboanga Del Norte topped the list with 64.6 percent of families living below the poverty level, according to the latest 2003 government figures.
Following Zamboanga del Norte are Maguindanao (60.4 percent), Masbate (55.9 percent), Surigao del Norte (54.5 percent), and Agusan del Sur (52.8 percent).
In the area of sanitation, Tawi-Tawi was worst off with only 46.9 percent of the households having access to a toilet.
Also lacking in terms of sanitation are Masbate, Samar, Basilan, Northern Samar, Sarangani, Sorsogon, Negros Oriental, Negros Occidental, and Cebu.
PEF started its poverty scanning program in 2003 to identify priority areas for its poverty reduction program. The scanning identified 28 priority provinces based on official data on income, health, education, and other top socio-economic indicators.
From the data, it came up with the National Poverty Map, the first in the country.
“We want the poverty map to be a tool for engagement so we can discuss what needs to be done in particular provinces,” said PEF Associate Director Ric Torres.
The PEF was particularly concerned about Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi because poverty levels there could be directly attributed to peace and order concerns.
Torres told the Inquirer he was optimistic that with greater use of the Poverty Map, government and non-government organizations could immediately see the concerns faced by individual provinces.
The map, for instance, shows at a glance the provinces with the highest poverty incidence among families, or those with the worst state of sanitation.
The poverty map is further delineated at the provincial level to sharpen the geographic as well as thematic focus of the foundation.
The identified municipalities or barangays (villages) with conditions of poverty provide a focus and a starting point in developing partnerships and poverty reduction programs.
“The road out of poverty is not paved, but could be smoothened by effective partnerships with local government units,” Torres said.
The Peace and Equity Foundation was formed as an independent non-profit foundation on October 2001 by the Caucus of Development NGOs (CODE-NGO) to support the work of civil society in eradicating poverty. The foundation administers an endowment fund from the net proceeds of the Poverty Eradication and Alleviation Certificate (PEACe) Bonds developed and sold on the capital market by CODE-NGO.