Under-five Mortality Rate (2015): 28 deaths per 1,000 live births (ranked 73 of 193). Source: UNICEF SOWC Report, 2016.
Human Development Index (HDI) (2014): 0.668 (ranked 115 of 188). Source: UNDP, Human Development Report, 2015.
Number of enrolled children (FY15): 27,986
Number of beneficiaries (FY15): 454,685
ChildFund began its work in the Philippines in 1971, partnering first with religious organisations, and then with communities. The partnership model progressed and evolved over the years. Now, ChildFund partners with people’s organisations, many of which have federated.
ChildFund Philippines takes pride in its ability to develop effective and practical approaches that mobilize children and youth towards positive change in their lives and in their communities. ChildFund Philippines works with local partner organisations, implementing programmes in the areas of education, health, child protection, livelihoods, and fostering an environment where there is a broad constituency that supports the well-being, rights and sense of citizenship of children, youth and their families. We invest $8 million annually in projects that directly benefit 50,000 children through sponsorship and grant projects. Our community-based approach allows our work to indirectly benefit 250,000 more Filipinos.
ChildFund Philippines gives primacy to the views of Filipino children about poverty, particularly their experiences of deprivation, exclusion and vulnerability (DEV), and takes a child-focused approach to designing and implementing child survival, protection and development programmes. The simple truth about poverty is that children experience it differently than adults. Children’s experiences of poverty also vary depending on where they are across the different life stages, as well as their geographic location, and economic position reinforced by socio-cultural ascriptions.
For infants and children ages 0-5, poverty is manifested in high maternal deaths, high prevalence of child malnutrition, and delayed psychosocial and cognitive development.
Children ages 6-14 experience DEV by dropping out from school, generating poor learning outcomes, and having low self-esteem. Lack of basic education stalls children’s development and makes them vulnerable to child labour, human trafficking and abuse, among other dangers.
Most youth ages 15-24 have limited education and skills, and are vulnerable to unsafe and exploitative work conditions. Limited acquisition of life skills leaves them susceptible to adverse external influences, affecting quality of life decisions, particularly their productive potential, economic capacity, psychological and personality development, and sexual and reproductive health.
In the face of all these expressions of DEV, ChildFund’s mission in the country remains at the heart of its operations:
Healthy and Secure Infants – Batang Malusog at Bibo Programme
Approximately 23,134 young children were prepared to enter formal school through their active participation in various sessions of Supervised Neighbourhood Play (SNP). Learning sessions on Safe Motherhood, Child Nutrition, Effective Parenting, and Positive Discipline among others had been continuously provided to mothers and caregivers. Application of knowledge gained from the learning sessions is evident in the results of M&E Level 2 where 97 percent of parents/caregivers participate meaningfully in decision-making on behalf of the child. Participant count report indicated a total of 47,371 infants and young children, and 46,096 parents/ caregivers reached through several programme interventions.
Educated and Confident Children – Batang Matalino at Listo Programme
Skilled and Involved Youth – Kabataang Aktibo at Produktibo Programme
The issues and challenges in the Philippines affecting children and youth across the different life stages emphasize the primacy of child protection, and the need to reinforce this with the promotion of child rights, child participation and youth leadership, as well as building personal competencies and community partnerships to help address child poverty.
ChildFund also focuses on raising the capacities of school management bodies, promoting peer education, introducing child-friendly teaching methodologies, child rights and child protection, providing socialized education assistance, and building children’s agency. This advocacy creates “Child-Friendly Schools”, establishing school-based child protection mechanisms and ensuring that these are functional, and providing financial education for young children.
ChildFund also promotes inclusive and safe education for Filipino children. ChildFund programmes ensure that all school-age children are in school and safe in a child-friendly environment, thereby increasing percentage of children completing basic education, improving learning outcomes, and developing children’s confidence.
The Philippines is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), which has been ratified and entered into force in 2007 provided additional rights and entitlements to persons (including children) with disabilities. However, despite our assent to this convention, many of the Philippines’ 14 million persons with disabilities and their families continue to experience human rights violations in one form or another.
ChildFund Philippines’ EMBRACE (Enhancing local capacities to make better communities for children and youth with disabilities) Project works with duty-bearers, children, parents, towards the full protection and inclusion of children and youth with disabilities. The project works to develop and enhance capacities of individuals (children and youth with disabilities together with other children and parents) to promote and protect the rights of the children and youth with disabilities. It aims to achieve, initially within the city of Bacolod, full implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This is achieved through advocacy for the enactment of local laws towards the full protection and inclusion of children and youth with disabilities, awareness-raising, and training and education.
The project builds capacities of children and youth with disabilities to protect themselves and to participate in matters affecting their lives through advocacy planning, training and advocacy campaigns targeting duty-bearers. ChildFund and our Local Partner conduct awareness-raising and advocacy campaigns led by children and youth with disabilities; together with other youth and parents/caregivers using various approaches. It is also piloting a “Whistle for Protection” campaign for children and youth with disabilities in schools and communities. Finally, the project also works to build the capacity of Child Protection Groups to ensure reporting mechanisms and referral pathways in schools and communities are enforced.
The Philippines continues to face key challenges in generating national wealth and redistributing resources and results equitably. Social inequality remains a salient issue, creating persistent social divides over the distribution of opportunity and outcomes in the Philippines, which, if left to fester, would further widen the societal fissures along geographic, ethnic, socioeconomic and gender lines, as well as across the life stage continuum. One facet of inequality is the highly uneven distribution of socio-economic opportunities in the country, such that some regions and provinces in the Philippines are poorer than others and have remained as such over time. There seem to be ‘geographies of poverty’ in the country, with six regions in Mindanao among the top ten with the highest poverty incidence in 2009. About 25-40 percent of families in these regions are poor.
Poverty becomes starker along provincial estimates. The 30 poorest provinces in the Philippines are home to about a third to half of the number of families living below the poverty threshold and are mostly found in Mindanao. Most of these provinces are also considered by the government as ‘conflict-affected areas’ and are prioritized in the government’s peace and development initiatives. These conflicts stem from resource claims, particularly ancestral lands and control over productive assets, by indigenous peoples, and are reinforced by exclusion from basic public services, long histories of neglect, and ideological and/or ethnic-based conflicts.
A closer look at the country’s situation shows that natural and human-induced disasters are a significant factor in poverty and vulnerability. Disasters and calamities affect the pace of development and require the reallocation of scarce resources toward relief and rehabilitation efforts.
About 20 typhoons affect the country every year, mostly hitting Eastern Visayas, and Southern, Central and Northern Luzon, as well as Mindanao in the recent years. The Philippine Development Plan reported that people affected by typhoons and floods doubled from four million in 1994-1996 to eight million in 2004-2006, most of them in rural areas. Natural disasters such as typhoons, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and the onslaught of extreme weather conditions, particularly El Niño and La Niña, are taking their toll on the people.
In addition, about 30,000 to 50,000 children in the Philippines have been displaced every year in the last four years (mostly in Mindanao) because of armed conflict. These children suffer loss of security from normal family and community relationships, lack of familiarity with new surroundings, and serious psychosocial stress; they experience school disruption and have to seek refuge in overcrowded evacuation centres without adequate health, water and sanitation services. Children living in conflict areas also experience human rights violations; particularly those who are suspected of giving support to armed groups and whose parents and siblings are suspected insurgents or rebels.
The Philippines is also home to around 110 ethno-linguistic groups, consisting of approximately 17 million indigenous peoples, who live mostly in Northern Luzon, particularly in the Cordilleras (33 percent) and Mindanao (66 percent). IPs are among the discriminated, vulnerable, and marginalized groups, as indicated by the correlation between low human development indicators and high concentration of IPs.
Joefil’s Stand for Children
Growing up with a back injury that progressively hunched his spine, Joefil endured bullying from other children, and even relatives. As Joefil grew older, his deformity progressed, and so did the derision others exhibited about his condition.
Joefil became sponsored under ChildFund when he was in the 6th grade. “ChildFund activities in self-awareness and life skills were the turning point in my coming to terms with my condition, and with other people’s attitudes,” Joefil says. “I was able to accept myself, and since then, I was able to do more.” Being a ChildFund youth leader played an important role in Joefil’s emancipation from the prison of being different. “At the different workshops ChildFund would host, I discovered I had a voice,” he says. “I learned who to talk to if I ever felt threatened by people; I observed other children would listen to me, hear my voice not as a child different from them, but as a peer not unlike anyone else my age. Beyond learning I had a voice, I learned I could contribute.”
Years later, after graduating school after Super-Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines on November 2013, Joefil came to work with ChildFund as an Administrator of temporary safe spaces at evacuation sites, where ChildFund initiates work in the emotional recovery of children, especially their immediate protection, and longer-term investments in strengthening mechanisms for the protection of children post-emergency. The assertiveness and leadership skills Joefil learned as a sponsored child saw him through the challenges of disability and bullying, and he reckons he can impart this resilience among children affected by the strongest typhoon in recorded history.
Former Youth Leader Returns to Her Roots
Twenty-four year old Annie Mae witnessed the onslaught of super typhoon Haiyan on television. She was completing a post-graduate course in Hawaii at the time, and decided Disaster Risk Reduction would be the topic of her paper. Annie Mae hails from islands in the perennially troubled southernmost area in the Philippines. Eighteen years earlier, Annie Mae’s younger brother was enrolled in ChildFund’s sponsorship programme. Though she was not a sponsored child, she and other non-sponsored children all joined the different activities and workshops ChildFund conducted in their community. “The Peace-building workshops were most significant for me,” she says. “I believe they changed my life in that it positively changed the behaviour of people in my island. It made them more tolerant and appreciative of each other.” Annie Mae noted that the people in her multi-cultural island community did not fight among themselves, though armed conflict did still come, spilling over from neighbouring islands. “Still, it taught me to participate; it taught me even one voice can make many listen. And I maintain that attitude up to today,” she says.
Annie Mae became distinguished as a child leader. She later became president of the children’s association organised by ChildFund’s local partner, working closely with the local partner’s staff. Her role as a child and then youth leader led her to travel from her home to represent her community, and other children, across different fora. Annie Mae even got to represent children on the board of the children’s sector of the National Anti-Poverty Commission. There she advocated the situation of children amidst armed conflict: children displaced by war, and children used as soldiers and couriers. Her work in children’s advocacy opened her eyes to factors that mitigate hazards from becoming disasters, and by the time she represented Filipino youth at the Southeast Asia Children’s Conference, her focus had matured into preparedness. Human conflict can be averted, but there’s no stopping a natural disaster; there’s only minimizing the risk hazards pose.
Annie Mae remained an active volunteer through college. She did well enough to keep a scholarship, which she has had since High School. After graduating, she immediately went to work with ChildFund’s local partner for almost a year. Graduating from volunteer to full-time staff meant a lot to her; it’s what she’d always wanted to do. Jolo was a small island; however, and soon Annie Mae felt she was ready for bigger challenges. Now Annie Mae is back in the Philippines for a few months, conducting research in village-based disaster preparedness and risk reduction, comparing urban and rural models.