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Hunger rate steadies on rise in Mindanao

Posted on July 04, 2016

THE RANKS of those who went hungry due to lack of food at least once grew in January-March from last year’s closing quarter as the administration of former President Benigno S. C. Aquino III entered its final three months in office, according to a Social Weather Stations (SWS) report that cited a significant increase in Mindanao from where newly seated President Rodrigo R. Duterte hails.

The First Quarter 2016 Social Weather Survey, conducted via face-to-face interviews with 1,500 adults nationwide from March 30 to April 2 -- and with sampling error margins of ±3 points for national percentages as well as ±6 points each for Metro Manila, North Luzon, South Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao -- showed the number of those who experienced involuntary hunger at least once in the preceding three months grew to 3.1 million families from the 2.6 million families estimated in the December survey, making the total hunger rate edge up two points to 13.7% from 11.7%.

The first-quarter total hunger rate -- steady from the 13.5% logged in March last year and the 13.4% average for 2015 -- consisted of 11.6% (2.6 million families) who said they experienced “moderate hunger” (going hungry “only once” or “a few times” in the last three months) and 2.1% (481,000 families) who suffered “severe hunger” (“often” or “always” in the last three months).

The increase in hunger rate was driven by a six-point rise in Mindanao to 19% (or an estimated 978,000 families) from 13% (658,000) in December that offset a three-point decline in Metro Manila to 14% (429,000 families) from 17% (513,000 families), a one point dip in the Visayas to 10.3% (449,000 families) from 11.3% (484,000 families), and a 2.6-point increment in Luzon areas outside the nation’s capital to 12.3% (1.2 million families) from 9.7% (952,000 families).

Sought for comment, Liza L. Maza, newly appointed National Anti-Poverty Commission head, said by phone that the Aquino government’s poverty-alleviation strategy that centered on conditional cash transfers “failed,” explaining: “You cannot really address poverty if your macroeconomic policy is not in line with the manufacturing sector and agriculture sector.” Moreover, the Agriculture department said last Friday that the country is now targeted to be self-sufficient in rice in two years. -- with R. F. Javil

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