Michelle Hibler
Publication Date
June 1, 2009

The International Development Research Centre (IDRC)

"In the Philippines, the community-based monitoring system has gone from pilot project to national scale in 14 years, with the strong support of all levels of government. The many uses for the information it provides include program planning and targeting as well as budget allocation. The system is also being used to monitor how well the Philippines is achieving the Millennium Development Goals [MDGs]."

The Community-Based Monitoring System (CBMS) is an organised way of collecting, analysing, and verifying information at the local level to be used by local governments, national government agencies, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and civil society for planning, budgeting, and implementing local development programmes. It also serves to monitor and evaluate their performance. Piloted in the Philippines in 1994, it is now being implemented in 14 countries of Africa, Asia, and Latin America. This article reports on use of the CBMS in the Pasay City, Manila, Philippines, government's effort to harness the potential of the city’s families to fight poverty. Together with the Brotherhood of Christian Ministers of Pasay, and in partnership with UN-HABITAT and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the city embarked on an initiative to "localise" the MDGs on children, education, home environment, health and maternal health, and rights in every family - to make individual families advocates, promoters, and achievers of the goals, established and monitored through the use of CBMS.

As stated here: "The CBMS census supported the city’s efforts by providing data on the living conditions of each household in every barangay [village or neighbourhood], as well as vital information about their needs and priorities. This enabled the city to launch appropriate programs.

For example, when it was learned that residents often spent scarce resources to travel to City Hall to queue for job placements and referrals - with little chance of success - the municipal government, in partnership with the business sector, decided to organize job fairs in barangays, where applicants could be interviewed and hired on the spot: the Public Employment Service Office hiring rate increased to 62%. A skills enhancement program was developed in partnership with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority to upgrade the skills of those who were not hired.... When the data showed that there were 114 dependents of overseas workers in one of the city’s 201 barangays, a savings group was organized (OFW Bayanihan Savings Group), and a mini-mart established to both employ and serve them."

In March 2009, the Local Economic Assistance Program was initiated with the goal of reducing the impact of the global financial crisis on local economies by supporting poverty reduction projects grounded in CBMS data and prioritised by the community. The programme also supports expansion of CBMS implementation beyond the current [January 2009] locations - 52 provinces (26 implement it province-wide), 531 municipalities, and 42 cities - a total of 13,498 barangays. CBMS has been adapted to local circumstances and particular uses in the Philippines by adding indicators specific to communities, for instance, and specific to certain MDGs.

Further, the Philippines CBMS team is now testing its use in gender-responsive budgeting. "A pilot project in Escalante City confirmed the usefulness of CBMS, which had been modified to capture additional gender-relevant information, such as education and livelihood skills, in targeting and resource allocation. For example, the city’s rather indiscriminate use of the gender and development budget was stopped and the funds were redirected to programs that responded to the CBMS findings - a supplemental school feeding program, maternal and child care, and free hospitalization at local government hospitals, among other measures." Data are available to governments and researchers through a computerised national repository system, installed at the National Anti-Poverty Commission and the League of Municipalities of the Philippines.


Email from Bill Carman to The Communication Initiative on March 10 2010.