MANILA, Philippines – To end the problem of hunger and malnutrition in the Philippines, change should start at the local level.
Local government units (LGUs) should prioritize hunger mitigation programs, targeting children, the most vulnerable, and shielding them from the effects of malnutrition.
In the Philippines, the LGUs in the National Capital Region (NCR) are at the forefront of this battle as the region registered the least number of undernourished children under 6 years old.
Based on the 2014 Operation Timbang (OTP) Plus results of the National Nutrition Council-NCR (NNC-NCR), 13% of all children under 5 suffer from undernourishment. This figure is below the country average of 19.9%. (READ: Where to find the highest of undernourished children in NCR?)
The combined efforts of all LGUs in eradicating the problem of malnutrition among children contribute to this “success.”
Among all of these Metro Manila LGUs, it has been found that Makati and Taguig have been leading the fight against malnutrition, based on their track records.
OTP Plus results showed that in the past 5 years, the two cities consistently registered less than 1% prevalence of undernourished children under 6 years old: Makati with .64% while Taguig has .88% in 2014. (READ: Makati, Taguig lead NCR cities fight vs malnutrition)
Recognized best practices
At least for NCR, the two cities could be considered “role models” when it comes to hunger mitigation efforts. But what are they doing right?
Taguig and Makati have been consistently given nutrition-related awards throughout the years.
The National Nutrition Council (NNC)’s Best Accelerated Hunger Mitigation Program during the 1st Gawad Pagkain Awards in 2009 was given to Taguig and served as “proof that the city is on the right track in addressing hunger.”
In addition, during a recent regional nutrition event, the National Capital Region office of NNC gave the city the Most Effective in Improving the Nutritional Status of Pre-School Children Award. The city has also consistently received the Green Banner Awards – in 2008, 2009, and 2014.
The following projects, according to reports, paved the way for the malnutrition rate to decrease in Taguig:
- Implementation of supplementary feeding with de-worming
- Distribution of micronutrient supplements such as vitamin A and iron syrup for elementary students
- Pabasa Sa Nutrisyon Program or an Information and educational campaign on healthy food production and preparation
- Food and livelihood assistance
- Highlighting nutrition as an essential factor in maternal and child health service
Meanwhile, Makati has been a consistent recipient of the Nutrition Honor Award – the highest award given by the NNC – due to the low malnutrition prevalence it has recorded annually.
The city is one of the few LGUs who have initiated a lot of programs that seek to decrease the number of people suffering from hunger and malnutrition, including:
- Expanded Immunization Program
- The first LGU-run Human Milk Bank which caters to breastmilk-needing mothers and those who want to donate
- Implementation of Project FEED (Food for Excellent Education Development), along with their education programs which benefit 3,881 elementary school students
Perhaps the strongest point the two cities have are their allocated budget every year.
It is really no secret, however, that Taguig and Makati belong to the richest LGUs in Metro Manila, if not the whole country.
In 2011, the Taguig LGU appropriated the biggest amount in the city’s history to nutrition programs. The budget, a total of P15 million ($339,000)*, was even bigger than the combined budget for these programs from 2008 to 2010.
Makati City, for its part, allocated P14.5 million ($327,000) to supplemental feeding alone in 2015. – Rappler.com
*$1 = P44