25 August 2006

We thought we knew better...

A LITTLE discussion arose during this afternoon's just concluded session with the 3rd cluster of barangays, most of which are located in the upland areas of Naga City.

A representative of the barangay people's council from San Felipe took issue with the first two of the city's three performance measures in regard to poverty reduction:(1) proportion of urban poor households with at least one member employed and earning the minimum wage; (2) proportion of urban poor households residing in the city for at least 3 years enjoying security of tenure; and (3) proportion of city households whose income is above the poverty threshold.

How about the upland barangays with no urban poor communities, yet rural poverty is more pronounced? Does it mean they are not part of or priority areas in the city's anti-poverty agenda?

He had a very good point, and our only response was to refer him to the blank space in our template where participants are encouraged to place their own performance measures not captured by those specified at the city level.

Which illustrates two key lessons: One, there is a tendency in the cities to automatically equate poverty with its more prevalent urban form, at the expense of rural poverty which is a reality in their predominantly agricultural villages. In designing the city level performance measures, we indeed thought we knew better.

Two, and this reaffirms the point made in the previous post, yet another value-added of barangay planning is precisely the flexibility to correct mistakes, in the process yielding a better set of performance measures, a better tool that more accurately captures realities on the ground, and a better understanding of development challenges in the locality. And of course profit from invaluable learning that goes with it.


Dominique said...

Hi, Willy: at our workshop here last week, I had a bit of a surprise. Presentation time and we were talking about our very lofty goals; then someone spoke up: what about programs for the urban poor? After a little digging, we concluded that, yes, the programs for "poverty alleviation" were there...but! it wasn't presented in a way that was cohesive and appreciable by the concerned parties. We settled it then, but methinks its an issue we have to keep an eye on.