We are excited to announce that the Graduation pilot in Negros Occidental province, in partnership with the Philippines Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB), has officially launched and is currently in the implementation phase. Since 2016, BRAC’s Ultra-Poor Graduation Initiative (UPGI) has provided a range of technical support services, including workshops, field assessments, trainings, and monitoring visits to bring this project to life, and will continue as the technical assistance provider throughout its duration.

This project targets approximately 1,800 households across five municipalities in Negros Occidental province who are living under the poverty line of approximately PHP 52.5 ($1 USD) per day. These households were selected from among existing beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino program, a financial assistance program that provides conditional cash stipends to the poorest families in the country. As part of the Graduation pilot, these households will continue to receive these stipends as well as DOLE’s “Kabuhayan Starter Kit” that combines a one-time asset transfer and training in business planning and management. BRAC is assisting DOLE in implementing its Graduation approach, comprised of technical training on how to manage assets, savings mechanisms, coaching and mentorship by Graduation Community Facilitators, training on social and health issues, and linkages to community groups and cooperatives.

Group livelihood training for participants (©BRAC 2018)

The project is also supported by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the local municipal governments of Victorias, EB Magalona, Silay, Talisay and Murcia. In addition, the pilot’s implementation is bolstered by research, which includes a randomized control trial conducted by Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) whose results will help inform the government and ADB about future Graduation programs in the Philippines. The evaluation of this project will measure variable impacts of group and individual livelihoods and coaching.

BRAC looks forward to continuing to work with DOLE and ADB to achieve the project goal of providing participant households with a comprehensive and sequenced set of interventions to place them on an upward trajectory into sustainable and resilient livelihoods. To quote Adeline De Castro, Director of Planning Service at DOLE, “We are very hopeful we can institutionalize this approach throughout a multitude of government agencies as a critical strategy to adapt in order to reduce poverty in the Philippines.”