TACLOBAN CITY – Leyte province will kick off the close monitoring of children and pregnant women in one city and three towns under the Accelerated and Sustainable Anti-Poverty Program (ASAPP). Provincial nutrition action officer Giovani Ed Napari said there will be provincial and town level launching within this month for the new program intended for poor communities. The project will cover all villages of Baybay City, Abuyog, Mahaplag and Hilongos. Leyte is one of the nine pilot provinces in the country of the ASAPP. “It will start this year for three years. One of the purposes is to decrease malnutrition by establishing support in the barangay,” Napari said. The province will need about P20 million for ASAPP’s nutrition program component. Funds will be downloaded directly to concerned local government units. One of the major activities is the massive promotion of home and community vegetable production. They may also include trade facilitation and market linkages such that the poor get to supply the raw materials, inputs and services needed by bigger businesses. The program primarily aims to significantly and sustainably reduce poverty incidence among the population to 18 to 20 percent in 2016 by creating income opportunities for and enhancing the employability of the poor, according to the National Economic Development Authority. It is being piloted in selected cities and municipalities in nine provinces classified as Category 1 in the Updated Philippine Development Plan 2011-2016. The launching is part of the 2016 Nutrition Month activity in the province. This year’s celebration is anchored on the theme “First 1,000 Days ni baby pahalagahan para sa malusog na kinabukasan!” The first 1,000 days has been tagged as the “golden window of opportunity” for building the foundation for the child’s ability to grow, learn and thrive, according to the National Nutrition Council. Aside from Leyte, ASAPP is also being piloted in Pangasinan, Quezon, Camarines Sur, Negros Occidental, Cebu, Zamboanga del Sur, Davao del Sur, and Sulu.  (SARWELL Q. MENIANO)