The “virus of poverty” has been a direful malady that constantly plagued our country. As it continues to ravage the country, its widespread impact has affected millions of Filipinos across different regions leaving them hungry, undernourished, homeless, and jobless.
With the huge number of people needing assistance from the government, it is important to ensure that its resources are equitably distributed, and its services are effectively implemented as well as strategically directed to the poor and the marginalized that needed to be served.
The main consideration in the delivery of these programs is to know exactly who and where the poor are. This is where the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction (NHTS- PR) comes into play.
Listahanan and its use
The National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction (NHTS-PR), popularly known as Listahanan, is an information management system which identifies who and where the poor are. It is a database which contains the list of poor households in the country.
Since its first data launching in 2010, the Listahanan database has been used by hundreds of organizations and agencies, both in public and private sectors. National Government Agencies such as DSWD, Local Government Units, Non-government organizations, and other social protection agencies have utilized it as a reference tool to ensure that only those poor will be benefited on their respective poverty-alleviation programs.
Beneficiaries of the state programs like the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program of DSWD, Tertiary Education Subsidy of CHED, Philhealth for Indigent of Philippine Health Insurance Corporation and among others were first identified through Listahanan.
It is to be noted, however, that Listahanan is not a program itself that provides financial assistance to the people. It’s not just like the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4PS) or Unconditional Cash Transfer Program (UCT), for instance, that directly provide cash grants to its beneficiaries. Nonetheless, its importance cannot be understated as it has been used for years as a reliable basis on the identification of beneficiaries of various social protection programs and services of our government.
How Listahanan identify the poor?
The method by which Listahanan identify the poor is not a hit-or-miss process of simply listing down who are poor and not, nor it is based on political influence or personal preference. Instead, it employs an objective and systematic process of knowing the real poverty classification of every household in the country.
To ensure that its process of identifying poor is attained with accuracy and reliability, Listahanan has to go through 4 phases namely: The Preparatory, Data collection and Analysis, Validation and Finalization, and Reports generation and Management phase.
A lookback on Listahanan project implementation in Region 02
Listahanan officially started its third round of assessment on the last quarter of 2019. This is in consonance with Section 2 of Executive Order 867 which requires the DSWD to update the NHTS-PR every four years.
As part of its preparatory phase, the National Household Targeting Section (NHTS) of DSWD F02 hired and trained more than a thousand of Field workers composed of Area Coordinators, Area Supervisors, and Enumerators to conduct household assessment on the 2,311 barangays of Region 02.
Coordination and orientation to the Local Government Units were also conducted for the smooth implementation of the project.
During the data collection phase, the field staff conducted house-to-house interview to gather basic information of household members using the Household Assessment Form (HAF).
Two assessment strategies were employed in the conduct of enumeration: saturation and pockets of poverty. For rural barangays, saturation was employed. This means that all households were assessed. Meanwhile, in
urban barangays saturation in identified pockets of poverty was applied. Employing these two strategies could ideally mean no poor households were left behind.
Initially, the data collection was expected to wrap up by the end of March 2020. However, due to Covid 19 pandemic, it was halted as the declaration of community quarantine put brakes on its implementation.
It was only in June 2020 when the data collection was finally completed. All in all, a total of 678, 190 households in the region were assessed. With the said number, a total of 2,991 households were assessed in Batanes; 236,407 households in Cagayan; 324, 205 households in Isabela; 74, 583 households in Nueva Vizcaya; and 40, 004 households in Quirino.
After the data collection, all information in the household assessment forms (HAF’s) gathered by the Field staff were encoded to a computer system and subjected to Proxy Means Test (PMT) for the preliminary identification of the poor. PMT is a statistical tool developed by pool of experts which is used to classify poor households.
With the aid of the Proxy Means Test (PMT), a total of 137, 444 households were initially identified as poor out of 678, 190 households total assessed in the region. There were 277 households identified poor in Batanes; 5, 325 in Cagayan; 61, 898 in Isabela; 17, 521 in Nueva Vizcaya; and 4, 497 in Quirino.
On the last quarter of 2020, the NHTS started to implement another significant component of the project whsich is the Validation and Finalization phase.
During the validation, the initial list of poor was posted in every barangay for the community to scrutinize. This mechanism encourages the public to see and review for themselves if there’s any misreported or erroneously classified information on the list. The phase also gave opportunity for the households not assessed during data collection to appeal for assessment.
At present, the validation and finalization phase of the project is close to completion.
What’s next with Listahanan?
Once the Validation is completed, Listahanan project will enter its 4th and final phase which is the Report generation and Management phase. It is on this stage where the final list of the poor will be launched in public.
It is expected that the updated and relevant database of poor households will be launched on the second semester of 2021. It will also be opened for data sharing with partner stakeholders through Memorandum of Agreement with DSWD.
Written by : Jeslymar N. Layugan/AAIII/IO for Listahanan