Interrogating different pro-poor policy approaches in the context of intersecting social-ecological crises in the Philippines

Dodd, Warren | $18,609

Ontario University of Waterloo 2021 SSHRC

Despite impressive national economic growth over the past two decades in the Philippines, 8.5% of the Filipino population experiences extreme poverty, which has been further exacerbated by the COVID‑19 pandemic and climate-related shocks. In 2019, the Philippines passed new legislation for universal health coverage and a conditional cash transfer program in an effort to improve health and reduce poverty. In the context of current and future socio-ecological crises, these new policies represent different approaches (i.e., universal versus targeted) to supporting vulnerable populations; however, the capacity of these new policies to reduce vulnerability and enhance resilience to intersecting socio-ecological crises among individuals experiencing poverty has not been explored.

The goal of this research is to investigate how these different policy approaches that are intended to improve health and reduce poverty are operationalized by policy influencers and experienced by beneficiaries in the context of intersecting social-ecological crises. With gender considerations central to our research design, and guided by vulnerability and resilience frameworks, this project has three interrelated objectives:

1. To conduct key informant interviews with social service providers and policy influencers to analyze narratives surrounding different approaches to pro-poor policy among service providers and policy influencers in the Philippines. Attention will be given to the connections between policy approach (i.e., universal or targeted), social-ecological crises, health, and poverty alleviation.

2. To combine participatory and qualitative methods with individuals experiencing poverty to investigate the uneven distribution of the purported benefits of different pro-poor policies in the Philippines in the context of intersecting social-ecological crises.

3. To mobilize knowledge among key stakeholder groups through targeted workshops and scenario planning activities to co-generate recommendations and actions to enhance the ability of pro-poor policy approaches to contend with intersecting social-ecological crises.

Our project is anchored by established collaborations with the Philippine-based non-governmental organization (NGO), International Care Ministries (ICM) and the School of Economics, De La Salle University (Manila, Philippines). Through bridging diverse methodologies, our project will push knowledge forward surrounding the extent to which different pro-poor policy approaches can enhance adaptive capacity among individuals experiencing poverty in the context of intersecting social-ecological crises. Leveraging the complementary content and methodological expertise of our team, this research will provide foundational and critical knowledge for policy audiences in the Philippines, other emerging economies, and civil society organizations to inform their ongoing efforts to reduce vulnerability and enhance resilience among individuals experiencing poverty.

This project will train seven students (four Canadian; three Filipino) in qualitative and participatory study design and data analysis, cross-cultural communication and collaboration, writing scholarly manuscripts, and presenting research findings to scholarly and policy audiences. This project will also provide useful and useable knowledge for ICM, government departments in the Philippines, international NGOs, and researchers interested in the intersections between social policy and poverty reduction. Findings will be mobilized through seven open access peer-reviewed publications, five conference presentations, three participatory scenario planning workshops with key stakeholders in the Philippines, and policy briefs that integrate project findings across objectives.

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