The Philippine Human Development Reports
HDN’s main vehicle for advocating people-centered development, and generating discussion and consensus on human development issues is the Philippine Human Development Reports (PHDR), the national counterpart of the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Global Human Development Report. To date, the HDN has produced five Reports in partnership with the UNDP. The Reports have been instrumental in raising public awareness and triggering action on critical human development concerns.
The HDN has pioneered a model for producing country human development reports in a genuinely collaborative and multi-disciplinary manner.
Each report represents the collective efforts of many scholars and practitioners who are the leaders in their respective fields and whose contributions are brought together in the PHDR. As research is being conducted in support of each Report, directions, frameworks and findings are presented for discussion to stakeholders and practitioners from government, civil society, research institutions and international organizations. This model of collaboration and consultation has resulted in Reports that have consistently been reputed to contain factually-based, insightful and well-written analyses of the most pressing human development issues in the Philippines.
There have been five PHDRs published since 1994, each of which have advocated the use human development concepts and indicators as a counterpoint to traditional measures like per capita income, in development policy-making and planning. The series has covered the themes of Human Development (1994), Gender (1997), Education (2000), Employment (2002), and Peace and Human Security (2005), gaining for the PHDR a reputation for factually based, insightful and well-written analyses. At the conclusion of the Second Global Forum on Human Development in Brazil in October 2000, the PHDR 2000 was awarded for Excellence in the Innovative Use of Human Development Measurement, Excellence in Presentation and Design, and Excellence in Participation and Policy Impact. The 2005 PHDR is a recipient of the National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) Outstanding Book Award for 2007. As a series, the PHDR has been cited for Outstanding Contribution by the Philippine Department of Science and Technology.
For its upcoming report on Institutions, Politics, and Human Development in the Philippines, the HDN will be drawing upon existing research and multi-disciplinary expertise to examine how characteristics of institutions affect, not only economic development, but also human development. It will consolidate and re-examine past studies and analyses of institutions in hopes of contributing in a rigorous manner to the literature on the efficacy of existing structures and processes and identify feasible means through which Philippine institutions may be reformed. The 2008 Report will present a general framework for analyzing features of government institutions and how these related to costs and effectiveness in governance.
Each of the Reports features a chapter that presents updated sub-national measures of human development. Initially available national statistics allowed only for computation of regional-level human development indexes, today these measures are available at a more disaggregated provincial level. These measures have been used in support of policy and research by both the government and the development research community.
One of the HDN’s continuing programs of research is the development of municipal-level measures of the status and progress of human development. The PHDR provides provincial-level human development index (HDI) measures, among others, which help monitor the performance of provinces with respect to human development. Part of the reason for the sub-national HDIs restricted level of disaggregation is the limited availability of reliable and valid municipal or barangay-level data. Clearly, further disaggregation in the subnational HDI is desirable because human-development related programs are increasingly being formulated and implemented at the municipality/city level, and thus, should be monitored at that level. In fact, during the dissemination of the 2005 PHDR, participants expressed concern that since the HDIs are computed at the provincial level, its utility for municipal and city governments will remain limited. Since much of the responsibility to help improve Filipinos’ quality of life has been delegated to local governments, relevant information, particularly on issues affecting human development, will greatly help local chief executives in planning and implementing effective programs or projects that will improve the lives of their constituencies. This program of research allows us to engage more closely with local collaborators and other partners in the countryside.
To learn whether there is potential in estimating municipal HDIs given the current Philippine Statistical System, the Philippine Human Development Network (HDN) initiated an activity for producing provincial-level human development reports in hopes of mobilizing local partners in the production of provincial reports and municipal-level HDIs.
The challenge of this pilot activity was to develop and design a practical methodology that will allow the HDI technology to be transferred and used at the local level, that is, to collect and use municipal-level data. Ultimately, the goal was to provide tools for a well-improved and informed citizenry that is equipped and enabled to judge existing local government based on human development outcomes.
In generating the provincial reports and attempting to generate municipal and city-level HDIs in the two pilot provinces, it became abundantly clear that there is an urgent need for reliable municipal-level data collection. Without such an effort, the production of provincial human development reports would be very difficult. Measuring human development at the municipal level will require capacity-building and training of personnel in LGUs. The HDN is currently undertaking a project to provide technical assistance and training to build local capabilities in data collection of LGUs. It is hoped that this pilot project will jump-start initiatives to invest in the statistical capabilities of local governments.
Currently the technical assistance project is underway in two pilot provinces, La Union and Misamis Oriental. Its output will be a manual and training program for officers in local governments responsible for the collection of statistics in their area. Interested municipal and city offices can contact the HDN Secretariat for additional details.
Research output about human development will have impact on outcomes only if these are circulated to and accepted by the policy community and government executives. The HDN is constantly engaged in advocacy and dissemination activities to increase the visibility of its findings and shore up popular and political support for its recommendations. There are several regular venues of dissemination through contributions in widely circulated policy briefs, workshops, forums, and roadshows in different cities around the country.
Each PHDR focuses on a theme issue of importance to human development in the Philippines. Once the Report is published and its findings publicized, the HDN strives to continue work in the issue area through follow-on research and refinements to its original findings. Papers generated through these efforts are released as part of the HDN’s discussion paper series.