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Our Work

The Philippines, Southeast Asia’s oldest democracy, is an important development, trade and security partner with the United States. In recent years, the Philippines has made substantial economic progress, although the country still has the least equitable income distribution among all developing countries in East Asia. Through the Partnership for Growth with Equity, the United States and the Philippines collaborate to address the country’s most serious constraints to lasting, equitable growth.

With an overall goal of supporting a more prosperous, stable and well-governed nation, USAID’s programs in the Philippines focus on accelerating and sustaining inclusive economic growth through activities in the areas of governance, the economy and health and education, and through activities that enhance the country’s environmental resilience and foster peace and stability in conflict-affected areas of Mindanao.

Since 2012, the U.S. and the Philippine governments have been working together to address the Philippines’ most binding constraints to inclusive and sustainable growth: governance, public financing, infrastructure and human capacity.

In recent years, the Philippines has emerged as one of the fastest-advancing economies in the region, with growth in gross domestic product averaging 6 percent annually. The Philippines has also received investment-grade, sovereign debt ratings from three of the world’s leading credit-rating agencies.

Yet economic gains have not generated sufficient, tangible improvements in the lives of many Filipinos. USAID’s work is as critical as ever to make growth more inclusive and sustainable. To amplify the success and sustainability of our work, we have been at the forefront of applying innovation, technology, partnerships and local solutions.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND GOVERNANCE

The U.S. government partners with the government of the Philippines to address constraints to growth in the Philippines, largely by enhancing the country’s economic competitiveness. USAID facilitates trade and investment by reducing regulatory bottlenecks, entry barriers and discriminatory provisions to investment; improving the environment for competition; enhancing Philippine participation in regional and international trade agreements; and enabling financial inclusion. USAID works with cities outside Metro Manila to bring about broad-based development by advancing appropriate policies and incentives, greater transparency and accountability and increased competitiveness. USAID also supports the Philippine government to strengthen the rule of law by improving court efficiency and increasing access to justice and by reducing corruption through the promotion of the enforcement of anti-corruption laws. USAID engages key stakeholders to increase community cohesion, reduce conflict and strengthen government capacity in Mindanao to collaboratively address grievances and deliver services. USAID also enhances the capacity of local organizations to provide assistance in the critical areas of trafficking in persons, disaster relief and environmental protection.

HEALTH

The Philippines is challenged by high rates of maternal and neonatal mortality and tuberculosis (TB). The annual population growth rate, estimated at 1.6 percent in 2016, remains one of the highest in Southeast Asia. The documented gap between actual total fertility (2.7 children per woman) versus desired fertility (2 children per woman) signals that many Filipino women want to space or limit their pregnancy but do not receive adequate family planning information, commodities and services. It is estimated that one million Filipinos have TB and they may or may not know it. One in 15 TB deaths worldwide happens in the Philippines, and one in 20 new drug-resistant TB cases is found in the country. TB kills at least 60 Filipinos every day.

USAID’s assistance enhances the capacity of the Philippines Department of Health, local governments (provinces, municipalities and cities) and the private sector to provide quality health services. All USAID activities support the Philippine government’s health care agenda and are implemented through a bilateral assistance agreement with the Department of Health. USAID-supported programs strengthen health systems while increasing the demand for and access to family planning and maternal and child health services and TB prevention, treatment and control.

ENVIRONMENT

As one of the fastest growing countries in Asia, the Philippines faces environmental challenges, with disproportionate impacts on the poor and women. Ineffective management seriously degrades the country’s significant biodiversity resources; water and air pollution levels exceed generally accepted healthy standards; greenhouse gas emissions are increasing from the transport and power sectors; and the country is ranked as one of the world’s most vulnerable to the impacts of environmental disasters.

For the Philippines to become a more stable, prosperous and well-governed nation, the country must become more environmentally resilient and better able to cope with the impact of natural disasters and recover quickly. Natural resources play a critical role in the Philippine economy, as agriculture, fisheries, and forestry represent about 10 percent of gross domestic product and account for almost 30 percent of employment. Equally important, natural capital provides energy, water, flood control, storm mitigation and other environmental services that benefit the entire country, including cities. USAID assistance improves natural resource management in the Philippines; promotes water and energy security; and reduces vulnerability to and natural disasters.

EDUCATION

To support broad-based and inclusive growth, USAID works with partners to improve the quality of both basic and higher education across the country. USAID invests in the next generation’s ability to sustain growth by improving early-grade reading skills, strengthening education governance at the community, helping universities align research and curricula with industry demands, and strengthening the science, technology and innovation ecosystem.

In support of its goal of fostering peace and stability, USAID is also active in providing education, economic and leadership opportunities to vulnerable out-of-school youth in conflict-affected areas in Mindanao. USAID is strengthening the capacity of stakeholders such as local governments, civil society, and the private sector to deliver education and training so that youth may return to school, join the workforce, or start their own business. Leadership and civic engagement training also builds social connections and trust to make youth more resilient in the face of recruitment of violent extremist groups.

In addition, USAID involves youth in governance processes, civil society strengthening, community participation and programs that counter radicalization and violent extremism. USAID identifies and supports next-generation leaders who will demand accountability from government leaders and become empowered members of their communities. USAID supports peace-building in Mindanao through learning camps and youth exchanges.

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Last updated: August 17, 2018

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