Despite the continuing health crisis brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) continues to facilitate the provision of livelihood support to women through the implementation of the Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP).
SLP is a capacity building program which provides opportunities to the vulnerable, marginalized, and disadvantaged individuals, families, and communities to enhance their livelihood assets and capacity to utilize their resources more productively.
Among those who benefitted from the program is the Barangay Biga Women Workers Association of Biga, Toledo City, Cebu. Their women members were able to continue to earn a living despite the implementation of community lockdowns because of their egg-laying business funded by SLP under the Micro-Enterprise Development (MD) Track.
Through the MD Track, SLP associations or individual participants may be provided assistance under three modalities. These are the Seed Capital Fund which enhances financial assets; Skills Training Fund which enhances human assets through technical-vocational and life skills training; and, Cash for Building Livelihood Assets which rebuilds or enhances natural and physical assets necessary for livelihood operations.
According to Valentina Razola, one of the members of the Barangay Biga Women Workers Association, she was able to address the needs of her family during the pandemic because of their SLP-funded business.
“Noong naging miyembro ako ng asosasyon, nabigyan ako ng pagkakataon na kumita para makabili ng mga pangangailangan ng pamilya ko” (When I became a member of the association, it gave me a chance to earn on my own and to provide for the needs of my family), Valentina said.
Valentina became the main provider for the needs of their family because her husband’s job as a construction worker was affected by the work stoppage due to the imposition of the community lockdowns.
Meanwhile, Irene Antenero, a mat weaver from San Francisco, Cebu, narrated that the pandemic has made it difficult for them to sustain their business.
“Mahirap ang buhay namin. Kumukuha lang kami ng kamote o saging sa labas ng bahay namin para may maibenta kami sa mga kapit bahay kasi mahina ang kita namin sa paggawa ng native mats. Mahirap talaga kumita dahil sa pandemic kaya kailangan namin matutong dumiskarte” (Our life is hard. To earn money, we just took crops from our backyard like camote tops or bananas and sell them to our neighbors. It was hard to earn a living during the pandemic. Orders for our native mats were scarce and we need to improvise to survive), Irene said.
Through the Livelihood Assistance Grant (LAG) of the SLP, Irene received P5,000 cash assistance to buy materials for her business. The LAG provides financial support to eligible families whose livelihoods were affected by the pandemic and the implementation of community quarantines.
As of May 2, the Department has already disbursed more that P981 million worth of LAG aid to 93,715 beneficiaries nationwide.
“Malaking tulong sa amin kasi nabigyan kami ng pera para makabili ng dagdag na materyales. Kahit kasi may community quarantine patuloy akong naghahabi. Pag maayos na ang sitwasyon at wala na ang lockdown, may maibebenta na ako” (It is a relief because I have the money to buy materials for the mats. Even if we are still in community quarantine, I continued weaving mats so that when the situation normalizes and the quarantine is lifted, I already have stocks of mats to sell), Irene added.
In 2020, the SLP and LAG have provided more than P3 billion worth of livelihood assistance to 101,481 participants across the country.
Irene and Valentina are among the women who benefitted from the Department’s livelihood program, especially during the ongoing pandemic.
The DSWD encourages interested participants to visit the DSWD Field Office or the City/Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office (C/MSWDO) nearest them. SLP Project Development Officers are ready to respond to their queries and provide them with schedule of SLP-related activities that they can attend.
The Department pledges to provide unhampered provision of social welfare assistance to low-income families affected by the ongoing health crisis.