Critique of a sectoral development plan

sample sector development plan


1. In the example provided, ‘rapid increase of teenage pregnancies,’ ‘high fertility rate,’ and ‘high incidence of illegitimate births’ were identified as the issues/problems. These are symptoms. Besides, ‘high fertility rate’ is, for me, not even a symptom nor a problem. It is a biological natural capacity and to say that it is a problem or issue is like saying having two eyes is a problem. Unless I’m assuming that no human being is aspiring to be Cyclops.

2. Issues in the human world follows the principles as that in the natural world: inter-relatedness and complexity. There are no stand alone issues. Planning for development on a simplistic and linear 1+1=2 mentality is already a start on the wrong foot.

A linear (1+1=2) planning mentality, from the above table:

Encouraging unmarried couples to receive the Sacrament of Matrimony (by identifying unmarried couples and mass wedding) will have decreased the number of unmarried couples which should reduce the high incidence of illegitimate births.

What’s weird with the equation?

Firstly, it presupposes that there is only one religion in the country and what about the non-church-based rites of indigenous peoples? Secondly, there are no more illegitimate children under the law as long as there is paternal recognition (the reason being, under the CRC, children should not be discriminated against because of a circumstance). Thirdly, it supposes that illegitimate births can be reduced by decreasing the number of unmarried couples. But since as mentioned there are no more illegitimate children under the law as long as the prescription is satisfied, is there still a problem with unmarried couples? This brings us to the question of, what sort of ‘unmarried’ are we referring to as the problem? Unmarried as in, sex workers? Violated girls and women who are not sex workers? A few years ago, while still employed, I was part of a team of internal evaluators in a child protection program and we came across a girl interviewee who was raped by her neighbor a boy her age. We had no words when the social worker recounted to us that just to “rest” the case the parents of both these children – each a victim if one looks closely at their lives and circumstances – agreed to marry them both off to each other, against the girl’s own wish. Recovering my voice and because I felt I couldn’t leave without saying anything about it, I asked without expecting a reply how they – duty bearers – could let it happen at all. Marrying off people and as casually as through a mass wedding in disregard of contexts actually set couples up to fail in their marriages not to mention lifetimes of unhappiness and dysfunctions. Planning without sound basis or evidence is a perpetuation of violation. People’s lives and futures are not to be shuffled and reordered on paper as if a child’s ABC blocks.

3. The Philippine Government is supposedly now using the human rights based approach to development as its framework of analysis. The matrix above is not reflective of this approach. With HRBAD, the gaps in the fulfilment, protection, and promotion of human rights should’ve been reflected.

Example of questions in HRBAD planning:

What are the violated rights and unfulfilled obligations associated with ‘population development’? Who are experiencing the violations? Where are these happening and at what magnitude? Why are these happening – what are the root causes?

Let’s take ‘high incidence of illegitimate births’ this time defining illegitimate births as births not recognized by the biological father as opposed to births by unmarried couples who recognize the births . Root causes could be traced, just to give an example, as:

sample root cause analysis (not exhaustive): high incidence of illegitimate births

The causes can be further clustered and implicate: the right to work (i.e. the right to enjoy just and favorable working conditions, the prohibition of slavery in all forms, the right of the child to be protected from economic exploitation), the right to private life (i.e. the right to marry and found a family – States shall not prohibit men and women (except close relatives) of marriageable age to wed and that States shall ensure marriages are entered into with the free and full consent of both partners which precludes forced or unsound marriages), the right to education (e.g. majority of working girls aged 15 did not complete primary education and they should be in school completing at least primary education, not at work), and prohibition of discrimination (e.g. children borne out of marriage and without paternal recognition. And marrying off their biological parents just to provide these children “legitimacy” and given “blessing” by the Church is in fact rooted in discriminatory attitudes toward such children and couples and “different” situations. These are some of the rights violated with respect to the symptom of high incidence of illegitimate births. Further analysis should include who are worse off and where they are.

These are not reflected in the sample plan. An incorrect reading or analysis produces irrelevant strategies and PPAs (and dire consequences in terms of human lives and futures). In planning using HRBAD, one finds that strategies normally address issues at the institutional level (“rules of the game”); human rights based strategies aim to change the current rules that violate rights and produce gross inequities. Usually, the rule makers are also the duty bearers (primary and secondary) hence the process usually also entails an inward looking assessment vis-a-vis rights violations.

4. I’m wondering how come these misconstrued development plans were even approved and disseminated. Apart from speaking volumes of whoever is ultimately in charge of the plans, they mirror the extent to which the planners understood HRBAD. If they were trained en masse in Boracay well you’d naturally do sums in your head – what is the rate of return in say the 5M invested in the out of town training?


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