The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) together with partner agencies implement the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa Program (BP2P) to help decongest urban communities where poverty continues to rise as a result of COVID-19 pandemic.

With the ongoing health emergency, people living in highly-urbanized communities are exposed to health and safety risks and other environmental hazards.

Bohol Social Welfare Officers together with KALAHI-CIDSS Deputy Regional Program Manager Karl Vladimir C. Arbon and BP2P Focal Person Patrick S. Lanutan during the Blended Coordination Meeting and Orientation with other partner agencies.

Prior the pandemic, urban communities are filled with rising number of individuals and families in search of viable source of income. The lack of opportunities and access to basic social services in the rural areas serve as contributing factors.

BP2P is a program that focuses on bringing people from urban to rural areas while providing comprehensive social services to start anew. Low-income families affected by loss of job or income, risks and hazards, or simply would want to go back to the countryside are considered eligible.

Deputy Regional Program Manager Karl Vladimir C. Arbon says “DSWD encourages all eligible individuals and families to return to their home provinces and avail of the different assistance such as transportation and transitory support, livelihood, shelter, and psychosocial assistance, among others.”

Executive Order No. 114 Series of 2020 mandated all government agencies to work altogether in providing a comprehensive service to BP2P beneficiaries and support Local Government Units (LGUs) in the conduct of social preparation.

Aside from the housing assistance, National Housing Authority (NHA) takes the lead in managing the enrollment system of applicants and database of beneficiaries. The program established a BP2 center where applicants can apply online through its balikprobinsya.ph portal.

Meanwhile, DSWD is the short-term implementing agency for preliminary activities that outlines eligibility assessment, documentation, case management, counseling and send-off of beneficiaries.

Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (KALAHI-CIDSS) of the DSWD leads the implementation of BP2 program in convergence with other agencies and LGUs.

These two programs play vital roles in the transition period. In order to build a resilient community, these LGUs are capacitated by the KALAHI-CIDSS in empowering beneficiaries and achieve sustainability in their new-found environment.

DSWD ensures support for these rural areas through grants while helping them in social and capacity-building activities in preparation for the transfer of individuals and families.

As a community-driven development program, KALAHI-CIDSS is mainly involved in the turnover and acceptance, and implementation of the recommended intervention suitable to beneficiaries upon their return.

On the other hand, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) is a long-term implementing agency that identifies priority growth for development and comprehensive support from different agencies anchored on the provision of Skills Priority Plan that focuses on livelihood, agribusiness, and manpower skills.

Through these, BP2P allows a balanced development and equitable distribution of opportunities leading to creation of new urban centers.

Short-term livelihood clusters offer start-up capital for MSMEs under the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) while the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) provide grants for workers venturing into small enterprises.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) is mandated to lead the implementation of Food Security and Agricultural Productivity by providing market assistance to beneficiaries venturing in agribusiness.

TESDA or the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority provides scholarship programs, trainings, and allowances for individuals availing of skills improvement.

“This program is not just an ordinary government program but a unique project that encapsulates all the support needed for a community development while enabling individuals to return to their hometowns where the support system is guaranteed,” says DSWD-7 Regional Director Rebecca P. Geamala.

Through this inter-agency initiative, recipients are provided with holistic interventions. To date, the program is preparing for the return of 129 families in Cebu, Bohol, Negros Oriental, and Siquijor. ###

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