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MANILA, Philippines – A United Nations official said “weak” institutions are holding the country back from attaining its development goals.
“Weak institutions have been a major constraint to progress,” stressed UN Resident Coordinator Jacqueline Badcock during the launch of an upcoming seven-year development assistance to the Philippines on Nov. 28.
Thus, of the $375.7 million that the UN and its partners will extend as a development grant to the Philippines, Badcock said bulk will be used for “institution building.”
Under the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) for 2012 to 2018, around $147 million was earmarked to “strengthen capacities of national and local agencies to deliver quality social services for the poor.”
Badcock added: “Failures in coordination, rule of law and in transparency and accountability need to be addressed if the Philippines is to effectively and sustainably achieve its development goals.”
The UNDAF for 2012 to 2018 is the third program the agency has launched with its partners to improve access to quality social services, promote democratic governance, provide productive employment for greener growth and strengthen resilience against disasters, shocks and climate change.
Hit and miss
The Philippines ability to meet its Millennium Development Goals (MDG) by 2015 has been a hit and miss.
The Philippines has made progress in terms of macroeconomic stability. The country jumped 14 places in the macroeconomic environment category of the 2011-2012 Global Competitiveness Report by the World Economic Forum.
The overall gains the Philippines made in competitiveness this year were largely on the back of that jump.
Yet human development services, particularly basic education and health remain a challenge. Debate hounds the Reproductive Health Bill which was meant to help address sustainable human development and the spread of reproductive health information.
In the case terms of achieving universal primary education, the probability is low, according to the National Statistical Coordination Board, which monitors the country’s MDG progress.
The UNDAF says almost 53% of all six-year-olds do not enter the formal school system and those who do begin dropping out before 3rd grade.
Regionally there remains uneven progress in MDG targets for maternal mortality and access to reproductive health services.
Badcock said this new UNDAF plan will have a stricter monitoring system than the previous ones.
“On the monitoring side of things we didn’t have any strong indicators. We had no clear results matrix with indicators and baselines with anything we could show change.
“This time we are trying to make sure we have a good results matrix which includes that baseline data so that we can actually document change. What we’ve not been able to do before is to show what difference the UN has made,” she stressed.
Badcock added that the new plan will have a people-based approach of helping building institutions through local government units.
She said there will be a focus on Mindanao specifically ARMM, Bicol and major urban conglomerates like Cebu and Manila.