MANILA, MARCH 4, 2013 (PHILSTAR) By Helen Flores - The government’s conditional cash transfer (CCT) program, popularly known as the Pantawid Pamilya Pilipino Program (4Ps), has significantly improved the nutritional status of poor Filipino children, according to a recent World Bank (WB) study.

WB social protection specialist Junko Onishi said the 4Ps program has reduced severe stunting among poor children aged six to 36 months.

Onishi said severe stunting, a measure of long term malnutrition, was 24 percent among children aged 6-36 months from non-Pantawid barangays to 14.7 percent in the villages not covered by the program.

“Severe stunting can cause irreversible damage later in life, including lower educational attainment, reduced adult income and decreased offspring birth weight,” Onishi said.

“This reduction in severe stunting indicates that CCT is enabling families to better care for their children. More parents in Pantawid barangays are feeding their children with high-protein food including eggs and fish, leading to improved nutritional status,” she said.

Onishi said the CCT has helped improved the long-term nutritional status of younger children, which is a positive impact not seen in other CCTs at such an early stage.

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The study, entitled “Philippines Conditional Cash Transfer Program, Impact Evaluation 2012,” also found that poor households under the program spend 38 percent more in education per capita and 34 percent more on medical expenses per capita than their non-Pantawid counterparts.

“This trend indicates a shift in the spending pattern among CCT beneficiaries towards greater investments in health and education of their children,” said Nazmul Chaudhury, WB country sector coordinator for human development and a co-author of the report.

The study, conducted by the Social Weather Stations in October 2011, covered 3,742 households in the provinces of Lanao del Norte, Mountain Province, Negros Occidental, and Occidental Mindoro.

The study also found 76 percent of the pre-schoolers from Pantawid villages are enrolled in daycare, compared to 65 percent in non-Pantawid barangays.

Ninety-eight percent of school children aged 6-11 who benefit from the program are enrolled in school, against 93 percent in non-CCT villages.

The WB’s study on 4Ps is the first of three rounds of impact evaluation series to be conducted by the international lending agency.

Onishi said they hope to include in the next studies the impact of 4Ps on the quality of children’s education.

Launched in 2008, the 4Ps is a human development program that invests in the health and education of poor households, particularly of children.

More than 300,000 family-beneficiaries are expected to graduate from the program by the end of 2013.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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