The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is looking forward to a more convenient approach of data gathering as well as the distribution of the cash aid through the mobile app ReliefAgad.
Andrew Ambubuyog, director of the DSWD Information and Communication Technology Management Service, said the use of the app would save the local government units (LGUs) time and money by cutting the cost of labor.
“We have based our computation of the estimate from our experience in the ‘listahanan’ (the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction), for example, a big LGU like Quezon City would most likely process hundred thousands of data in a week and they would need to hire 2,000 encoders to perform that,” he told the Philippine News Agency.
The introduction of the ReliefAgad system will improve the gathering of beneficiary data by taking advantage of mobile phone technology.
The move is based on a study presented by its partner United States Agency for International Development (USAID) that mobile use in the Philippines is estimated at around 70 percent of its population in the year 2020, Ambubuyog added.
“While we can say that not all of the targeted families have smartphones, some of them have. Baka at least makakuha kami ng (We may at least get) 30 percent from them, given that mobility and hiring, is almost impossible at this time,” he said.
When it was launched on May 14, the DSWD initially eyed ReliefAgad to be pilot-tested in the National Capital Region (NCR), however, other regions outside Luzon island have started using the app already, Ambubuyod said.
For the first week, the DSWD has received 600,000 applications while other regions submitted at least 400,000.
As of May 20, the DSWD has disbursed PHP98.4 billion to 17.4 million SAP beneficiaries, which translates to 97.1 percent of the targeted 18 million beneficiaries.
Developed by the Developers Connect Philippines Community of Technology Partners (DEVCON-DCTx), ReliefAgad is a quick-relief system that would enable the DSWD to expedite capturing social amelioration card (SAC) details, and interface with any electronic payment systems.
USAID, through its E-PESO project (USAID/E-PESO), is supporting the deployment of ReliefAgad through a 24/7 technical support system and development of digital user guides and instructional materials. USAID/E PESO will also be providing technical assistance on the disbursements of SAP subsidies via mobile phones.
The ReliefAgad launch came as five million more low-income families are set to be added to beneficiaries who will receive SAP cash aid.
Earlier, DSWD Undersecretary Danilo Pamonag said using the app would also enable officials and beneficiaries to perform the transactions without the risk of catching the virus as it eliminates physical contact.
“Higit pa sa tulong na dulot nito sa ating pamamahagi ng ayuda alinsunod din ito sa layunin ng gobyernong hindi na lalong kumalat pa ang virus na dala ng Covid-19 sa ating komunidad. Hindi na kailangang pumila ng mahaba at maghintay ng matagal sa mainit na panahon (More than the help it gives us in distributing the aid, it also follows the government’s objective to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in our community. Beneficiaries do not need to wait and suffer the heat as they fall in line,),” he said.
The DSWD has also advised senior citizens and persons with disabilities (PWDs) to refrain from going out and lining-up to claim their emergency subsidy. Instead, they can send a representative to claim the cash aid if these are given through payouts.
LGUs are also urged to provide a standby ambulance with available paramedics in the sites of payout. Compliance with the stringent physical distancing measures in the identified distribution points is also enjoined to ensure the safety of the beneficiaries. (Christine Cudis, PNA)