HOMELESS Filipinos are seen awaiting their turn to get free food at T.M. Kalaw in Manila. — PHILIPPINE STAR/KRIZ JOHN ROSALES

QUALITY EDUCATION and health programs will maximize the development impact of cash transfer programs like the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), the World Bank said.

“The quality of education and health, not just service use, is critical to achieving the expected gains in human capital. Like all conditional cash transfer programs, Pantawid acts on the demand side. The project’s conditionalities, such as the family development sessions, have been fundamental to bringing about behavioral change,” it said in a report.

“The program was quite effective in changing attitudes and behaviors (increasing school attendance and supporting regular visits to health clinics) but not as much in affecting development outcomes such as learning, stunted growth of children, or maternal mortality,” it added.

The World Bank said these outcomes “depend crucially on the quality of services provided.”

“Supply-side conditions need to operate together with incentives on the demand side (such as Pantawid conditionalities) to achieve gains in human capital,” it said.

The 4Ps require recipients to submit to health checks and keep children in school to leverage the impact of the cash into behaviors deemed helpful in achieving development goals.

The World Bank also noted the importance of continuous monitoring and evaluation to ensure the program is constantly evolving.

“The management information system regularly ensures that Pantawid beneficiaries receive the appropriate grant based on their degree of compliance with conditionalities; it is constantly updated to regulate complex interdependent processes. At the same time, evaluation of processes and results is needed to inform the government of the necessary changes to keep the program effective,” it added.

Government ownership is also key to sustaining cash transfer programs, the multilateral lender said.

“The success of a large, nationwide social protection program like Pantawid lies in creating and strengthening the operational and institutional systems needed to support it,” it said.

“Thanks to its solid institutional base, Pantawid expanded much faster than originally anticipated — faster than similar programs in any other country globally —and became the third-largest conditional cash transfer program in the world in population coverage,” it added.

The 4Ps were first launched in 2007 and made a permanent feature of government entitlements in 2019. — Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson