BUSINESS-LED non-governmental organization Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) recently launched The Hunger Project (THP), an initiative within the business sector to end hunger and malnutrition by 2030, following the United Nations’ (UN) Sustainable Development Goals.  

“Malnutrition is our common enemy. It persists in multiple forms and, with the full impact of the COVID-19 [coronavirus disease 2019] pandemic still unfolding, it’s a barrier to building resilience,” said Ellen Ruth F. Abella, nutrition officer of the National Nutrition Council (NNC).  

Studies have shown that focusing on feeding children in the first 1,000 days of their life will be most effective in improving nutritional development, she added.  

This approach is used by THP, which supports various initiatives in the National Capital Region, Samar, Negros Occidental, Zamboanga Del Norte, Basilan, and Sarangani, specifically in areas not sufficiently covered by other zero hunger programs.   

Food security data released by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute showed a rise in food insecure households in 2020, with 62.1% of families surveyed saying they experienced moderate to severe food insecurity, up 21.9% from 2019.  

“This is correlated with the level of quarantine. The stricter it is in that area, the more food insecure the households are,” said Dr. Roehlano M. Briones, board member of Brain Trust, Inc. 

NNC’s Ms. Abella lauded THP’s objective of encouraging the business sector to support NNC’s Philippine Plan of Action for Nutrition, calling on more partnerships in adopting LGUs (local government units) and scaling up their programs in various locations.  

“We aim to reach graphically isolated and disadvantaged areas, indigenous peoples, and the urban poor,” she said.  

PBSP Executive Director Elvin Ivan Y. Uy cited the UN, World Health Organization, and World Bank’s Joint Child Malnutrition Estimates for 2021, which said that the world is not on track for the goal of zero hunger by 2030, with the coronavirus worsening the situation. He also mentioned the latest Social Weather Stations survey that found around 4.2 million Filipinos went hungry in 2020.  

“The end hunger fund that will be generated by THP and its growing alliance of various companies will be used to support the programs of local governments,” he said.  

Other projects with the same goal include the government’s Task Force Zero Hunger (which identified 32 priority provinces based on indicators like poverty, teenage pregnancy, and malnutrition levels) and multisectoral effort Pilipinas Kontra Gutom (PKG), which added 17 provinces to the list. THP, according to Mr. Uy, complements both.  

“Much of 2020, we were trying to understand the directions and plans of the task force, of PKG, and of the entire ecosystem,” he said. “THP is a separate identity but we still work with them. We are, in fact, involved in all of those things.” — Brontë H. Lacsamana