Tackling Urban poverty.(Opinion &Amp; Editorial)

Article excerpt

ON November 8th a memorandum of agreement was signed at the PLDT building in Makati, between the Asia Development Bank and the Philippine Business for Social Progress, (PBSP) which establishes a $3.6 million dollar grant for a public/private sector project to upgrade slums in Metro Manila. Dubbed the Strategic Private Sector Partnership for Urban Poverty Reduction in Metro Manila (STEP-UP) the program includes improvement of local community infrastructure, housing, small loans for small business ventures, and a disaster preparedness program to minimize fatalities during fires, floods and typhoons.

Poverty reduction is a laudable aim of most administrations but one which government cannot accomplish on its own. To seriously tackle poverty requires public/private sector cooperation. For the past thirty years leading businesses in the Philippines under the banner of PBSP have tithed annually to provide funds for upgrading poor families through micro-credit, skills training, and technical assistance for small farmers and fishermen. Now, PBSP has joined up with the Asia Development Bank for this large-scale program aimed specifically at Manila's urban poor who make up 40% of the city's population and include workers who supply such city services as garbage collection, janitor service, security guards. It is the aim of this ambitious program to create liveable neighborhoods for the working poor. Funding for the program comes initially from the Japanese government which has earmarked a 3.6 million dollar grant specifically for poverty reduction. The Asia Development Bank, which has shifted policy from large infrastructure projects to those that directly impact upon poor families, will partner PBSP which will serve as the implementing agency as well as supplying counterpart funding. The ambitious 3-year project includes improved housing, credit, onsite facilities and disaster preparedness.

ADB will partner PBSP, which has been devoted to microloans for small business to promote social development at the ground level for over thirty years. The aim of the STEP-UP program, according to the ADB specialist, Matthew Westfall, is to develop sustainable long-term impacts that "improve the lives of the urboon poor in a measurable way. …