How hungry was the Philippines in 2014?

Fritzie Rodriguez
The latest SWS survey shows that the PH did well in fighting hunger in 2014, but international reports say otherwise

HUNGER. The latest SWS survey shows a decrease in Filipino households experiencing hunger. File photo by Fritzie Rodriguez/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines — The number of Filipino families experiencing hunger by the end of 2014 decreased, the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey review showed.

While the percentage of self-reported hunger among households fell from 19.5% to 18.3%, the country’s average hunger rates have barely changed in the past 7 years.

Year Average hunger among PH households
2007 17.9%
2009 19.1%
2012 19.9%
2014 18.3%

Meanwhile, families experiencing “severe hunger” partly increased in the past decade from 3% in 2004 to 3.5% in 2014, with Luzon having the highest rate.

Hunger incidence in the National Capital Region had the biggest drop, from 23.5% in 2013 to 16% in 2014. Hunger incidence in Mindanao also decreased, but increased slightly in Luzon and the Visayas.

Hunger incidence in PH households based on location
  2013 2014
Luzon 18.3% 19.3%
Visayas 16.1% 16.6%
Mindanao 22.1% 19.2%

The hunger issue took center stage in 2014, following a series of events:

Will the momentum continue in 2015? (READ: Pending PH bills on hunger)

The survey, however, also showed that public satisfaction with the government’s efforts in reducing hunger is “weak.”

Global nutrition report

Although the Philippines showed progress based on the SWS survey results, it did not fare well in the 2014 global nutrition report of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

The report showed that the Philippines is not likely to meet any of the 6 nutrition targets of the global World Health Assembly:

  • Reducing child stunting by 40%
  • Reducing anemia in women of reproductive age by 50%
  • Reducing low birthweight by 30%
  • Preventing an increase in child overweight
  • Increasing exclusive breastfeeding of infants up to at least 50%
  • Reducing and maintaining child wasting to less than 5%

All these health problems, at some level, either result to or root from hunger.

The latest survey from the Department of Science and Techonology’s Food and Research Institute also showed little progress in eliminating malnutrition among poor Filipinos.

On the upside, the country’s global hunger index (GHI) has been improving in the past two decades. GHI is calculated based on a country’s data on undernourishment, child underweight, and child mortality.

Philippines Global Hunger Index
1990 2000 2014
20.1% 17.9% 13.1%

(Source: IFPRI)

Although the country’s hunger problem remains significant, it has also seen some progress over the years. In 1990, the Philippines had a hunger index marked as “alarming,” and at present, it was downgraded to “serious.”

Based on the GHI, the Philippines currently ranks 29th in the world, just behind Iraq and Lesoto. In Southeast Asia, the Philippines lags behind Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Indonesia.

For a country to have a “low” hunger index, its percentage must fall below 5% – a challenge the Philippines must be willing to take.

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