Making Data Truly Count


July 29, 2021


Making Data Truly Count

Designing a development plan for your community is daunting in itself. Ensuring that it is based on solid data is another hurdle that most LGUs need to overcome. Despite being in the information age, with knowledge management as an integral cornerstone of governance, the majority of municipalities across the Philippines are still struggling with basic issues of data collection and its impact on policy making. In particular, poverty reduction.  

An LGU in Mindanao learned its lesson the hard way when it failed to implement a vaccination program for children which was granted by a funding agency. The program’s target beneficiaries were 1000 children aged 0 to 5 years old, but the LGU wrongfully vaccinated 600 children of whom several were aged 7. It was not only poised to be cut-off from further funding due to data error, but the LGU also jeopardized its partnership with the donors of the health program.

To help resolve the common issue of the lack of accurate data among LGUs, the national government through Republic Act 11315 enacted the Community-Based Monitoring System (CBMS) Act in 2019. It aims to systematize data collection, data sharing and information management at the LGU level. CBMS is intended to equip LGUs with a computer-led platform to use when forming poverty analysis, budget prioritization, planning and designing policies, programs and interventions. It is seen as a viable tool for developing mechanisms for project impact monitoring.

CBMS originated in 1994 under Dr. Celia Reyes from the Angelo King Institute of the De la Salle University (AKI-DLSU). The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) adopted CBMS and consequently acted as partners using this to address localized poverty-related data. Knowing the potential of CBMS on poverty reduction, both the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) became staunch advocates, pushing the development of local programs using this monitoring system,

By 2016, CBMS improved its data collection features when it became accessible on gadgets like smartphones and tablets. LGUs can easily access CBMS and eliminate data entry and human error when doing field surveys and sampling. With the use of handy devices, enumerators can immediately sync data with a global positioning system (GPS), accurately mapping where the information is sourced or located.

Using GPS-generated data via CBMS, the Municipality of Mulanay in Quezon Province, was able to use hazard maps and identify houses in hazard-prone areas. Having this kind of information is essential in planning for typhoons and similar disasters.

Another LGU success story is the municipality of Bongao in Tawi-tawi, which used CBMS to accurately determine the exact population of the Badjaos tribe. Also known as sea gypsies, they live in boats or houses on stilts. Prior to 2015, arriving at an accurate number to determine their exact population was based largely on estimates. It was common for Badjaos to be unregistered, so the mayor of Bongao took the initiative of funding a civil registration program, giving and processing birth certificates to the Badjaos free of charge. Because of this, these people later became beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) and the PhilHealth.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) is now leading the development of CBMS.  PSA will rollout CBMS data collection in at least seven LGUs for 2021. In 2022, it will expand users to fifth and sixth class cities and municipalities. 

Envisioned as more than a data collection app, CBMS will feature more sophisticated data processing so that LGUs and other decision-makers can better design programs and projects that better serve its constituents. 

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