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Hunger trend snapped

Posted on July 03, 2012

HUNGER HAS FALLEN from a record high hit earlier this year, the Social Weather Stations (SWS) said in a new report.

At 18.4% -- estimated to be equivalent to 3.8 million families -- the result recorded in a late May survey was slightly more than five points down from the 23.8% peak (estimated 4.8 million households) seen in March.

It was also the first time since June 2011 that hunger -- which worsened in three succeeding polls -- has been below 20%, the SWS noted.

The overall decline was due to improvements in both moderate and severe hunger, the survey research institution said, although regional results were mixed.

Palace officials claimed government programs were having an impact, but also said that continued improvements would validate if the Aquino administration’s substantial outlays were having an impact.

Moderate hunger -- experiencing having nothing to eat “only once� or “a few times� in the last three months -- fell to 13.7% (est. 2.8 million families) from 18% (3.7 million) in March.

Severe hunger -- referring to those who experienced it “often� or “always� -- dipped to 4.8% (974,000 households) from 5.8% (1.2 million).

By region, overall hunger plunged by nearly 14 points to 14.3% (1.3 million families) in Balance Luzon and by over eight points to 16% (454,000 families) in Metro Manila. It rose by seven points, however, to 17.3% in the Visayas (670,000 families) and by almost two points in Mindanao to 28.3% (1.4 million families).

Moderate hunger also declined substantially in Balance Luzon (8.7% from 22%) and by nearly four points in Metro Manila (12.7% from 16.3%), but nearly doubled in the Visayas (15% from 7.7%) and also rose in Mindanao (22.3% from 20%).

The new moderate hunger rates are still higher than the 13-year averages for all areas, the SWS said.

Severe hunger, meanwhile, declined in all areas, easing the most in Metro Manila (3.3% from 8%) and improving by less than a percentage point in Mindanao (6% from 6.7%), the Visayas (2.3% from 2.7%) and Balance Luzon (5.7% from 6%).

The latest severe hunger rates in Metro Manila and the Visayas are now lower than their 13-year averages -- 3.6% and 3.2%, respectively, the SWS said.

The latest hunger results, the SWS said, are internally consistent with findings on poverty and food poverty. Last week it said the same May poll found poverty at 51%, down four points from 55%. With regard to being poor in terms of food, 39% claimed to be so, down from the prior survey’s 45%.

In the latest report, the SWS said hunger was at 26% among the self-rated poor, more than double the 10.7% among those who said they were not poor or were on the borderline. In March, hunger was at 32.4% among the self-rated poor and 13.5% among the not poor/on the borderline.

Among the self-rated food poor, hunger stood at 31.8%, more than three times the 10.1% among the not food-poor. It was at 37.3% among the self-rated food poor and 13% among the not food-poor previously.

Severe hunger among the self-rated poor, meanwhile, eased to 7% from 9.2%, but worsened to 2.5% from 1.7% among the not poor/on the borderline. It fell to 9.7% from 10.5% among the self-rated food-poor, and to 1.7% from 2% among the not food-poor/on the borderline.

Moderate hunger among the self-rated poor, meanwhile, declined to 19% from 23.2% and also fell to 8.2% from 11.8% among the not poor/on the borderline. For the food-poor, moderate hunger fell to 22.1% from 26.8% and also dropped to 8.4% from 11% among the not food-poor/borderline.

“As a concept, poverty allows for various degrees of deprivation. Those who suffer from hunger are much more deprived than those who simply suffer from poverty,� the SWS said.

Commenting on the results, Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the decline in overall hunger was due to “programs on inclusive growth, education, public health and anti-corruption... We are confident these programs will have a lasting effect.�

Sec. Ramon “Ricky� A. Carandang of the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office, meanwhile, said “It would be more meaningful to look at the longer term trends which should show a gradual improvement as a result of our interventions in CCT (conditional cash transfer), healthcare, and education.�

The May 24-27 SWS survey utilized face-to-face interviews of 1,200 adults, with error margins of ±3% for national and ±6% for area percentages. -- with a report from Noemi M. Gonzales