Albay achieves MDG targets ahead of target date

September 18, 2010 11:45 am 

By Johnny C. Nunez

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 15 — The Albay provincial government has achieved most of its Millennium Development Goal (MDG) targets earlier than the 2015 global deadline. Since 2007, the province has adopted the United Nations’ defined MDGs as its very own objectives.

Albay Governor Joey Salceda said their MDG performance is actually way up the targets at all levels, largely through the efforts of the Albay Millennium Development Goals Office (AMDGO) which he created to monitor their MDG performance and manage their social assets program.

Salceda said he created the AMDGO after re-visioning the original vision of "safe and shared development" where “safe” came to include Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) under the Hyogo Framework (Building the Resilience of Nations and Communities to Disasters), and “shared” was operationally defined as MDG compliance and sustained improvement in the Human Development Index.

“To put money where our hearts lay, our health budget was increased from P103 million in 2007 to P173 million in 2010, nearly 17 percent of the budget. The allocation for education was similarly increased from virtually nothing outside of the Special Education Fund (SEF) to P178 million this year, while the SEF itself was hiked from P5 million to P18 million,” he added.

The outcomes of the bold moves are most fulfilling — elementary school participation rates went up from 77 percent to 89 percent in 2009; Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) improved to 12/1000 from 33/1000; Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) dipped to 59/100,000 from 133/100,000); and Child Mortality Rate (CMR) went down to 18/1000 from 23/1000 seven years earlier than target date. Philhealth coverage also increased from 10,000 to 173,000 — the biggest for any province and virtually universal.

Poverty rate has similarly fallen to 38.7 percent in 2006, the lowest in the Bicol region. And while still high compared to the national 33 percent, recent GDP trends (8.2 percent in 2009) suggest that the downward trajectory is gaining traction. The full coverage of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) combined with massive investments of P37 billion over the past three years are likely to sustain poverty reduction.

This impressive MDG performance, Salceda said, leaves them only two problematic goals — access to sanitation and improved cohort survival in elementary education.

Currently, Albay focuses on further improving its performance in the National Achievement Test (NAT) of the Department of Education, aiming to hit the top 10 of the NAT by 2016. This objective is not among the MDG targets but is complementary to its enhanced education goal.

Salceda said they have also lobbied with the Department of Social Welfare and Development for full coverage of their 18 towns and cities under the agency’s conditional cash transfers.

”On our part, we have limited the utilization of our annual P100,000 subsidy for barangays to education projects. We will launch BAKAS or Barangay Kasangga sa Edukasyon to recognize barangays which host schools that achieve 100 percent participation and excellent performance in the NAT,” the governor said.

On HIV/AIDs, Albay has activated its Provincial AIDS Council and partnered with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Department of Health (DOH) on programs and projects to outperform the MDG goal. “We put in a dedicated program manager, Mike de la Rama, and recruited an Assistant Chief of the Provincial Health Office, Dr. Felino, with expertise in public health,” he added.

Salceda said he has asked help from DOH and seeks financial assistance from partner NGOs and INGOs to help ensure meeting their problematic goal of access to sanitation as 76,000 homes still do not have sanitary toilets although 96 percent have access to potable water.

“All told, Albay is single-mindedly focused on achieving its MDGs by 2015. We are confident we will. Preliminary results of our journey towards this destination have essentially been rewarding to our people in terms of better health and education outcomes. We have shifted our overall development strategy from physical capital formation to human capital formation. We have also shifted our approach from opportunity-seeking to capability-building,” he explained.

Sound governance is indeed a key to MDG achievement as it helps generate the required resources.

”Similarly, local ownership of set MDGs compels communities to develop pathways and expenditure patterns where good governance is spontaneously built-in. MDG and good governance are twins. They reinforce one another and one cannot do without the other,” Salceda pointed out. (PNA)

scs/JCN/mec

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