Fewer go hungry, feel poor
Affected families, however, still number in the millions
FEWER FILIPINO FAMILIES claim to have experienced hunger or feel poor but their numbers remain in the millions, a Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey showed.
A September SWS poll, the results of which were made exclusive to BusinessWorld, found 15.9% of households — equivalent to some three million families — claiming to have had nothing to eat at least once in the past three months, down from 21.1% in June.
Some nine million families or 48% of the respondents, meanwhile, rated themselves “mahirap” or “poor,” a slight improvement from June’s 50%, while the ranks of those who considered themselves food-poor stayed unchanged at 39% or an estimated 7.1 million households.
President Benigno C. Aquino III welcomed the results and said he remained committed to good governance and improving the economy.
The latest hunger figure was down from over 20% results in the last three quarters. It is two points above the 12-year average, the SWS said, adding that hunger has stayed in double-digit territory since June 2004.
Overall hunger fell due to declines in both moderate and severe hunger, the SWS said. Moderate hunger — experiencing it “only once” or “a few times” — was down four points to 12.9%, equivalent to 2.4 million families, while severe hunger — “often” or “always” having nothing to eat — slipped a point to 3.1% or 575,000 families.
Overall hunger declined in all geographical areas, decreasing the most in Mindanao to 16.3% (700,000 families) from 26%. The Visayas saw an almost six-point dip to 15.3% (580,000 families), in the Balance of Luzon it was down almost four points to 14.7% (1.2 million families), while Metro Manila trimmed its ratio by nearly two points to 20.3% (507,000 families).
Broken down, moderate hunger declined in Mindanao to 13.3% from 21%; in the Visayas to 11.7% from 17.3%; in the Balance of Luzon to 12.3% from 14%; and in Metro Manila to 15.7% from 19%.
“The new moderate hunger rates are still higher” than their 12-year averages, the SWS said.
Severe hunger, meanwhile, was down by two points in Mindanao and the rest of Luzon to 3% and 2.3%, respectively. It stayed at 3.7% in the Visayas and rose to 4.7% from 3% in Metro Manila. The new rates are above their 12-year averages in Metro Manila and the Visayas but are lower in the Balance of Luzon and Mindanao.
By geographical area, meanwhile, self-rated poverty dropped to 40% from 44% in the rest of Luzon and to 53% from 56% in Mindanao. It increased in the Visayas to 61% from 58% and in Metro Manila to 49% from 48%.
It declined by three points to 55% in rural areas and by one point to 43% in urban areas.
Self-rated food poverty, meanwhile, fell by 12 points to 36% in Mindanao but rose in other areas: to 41% from 35% in Metro Manila; 50% from 45% in the Visayas and 32% from 31% in the rest of Luzon.
The self-rated poverty threshold, or the monthly budget poor households say they need in order not to consider themselves as poor in general, remained sluggish in an indication of belt-tightening, the SWS said.
As of last month, the median poverty thresholds for poor households was P10,000 in Metro Manila, P9,500 in the rest of Luzon, P6,000 in the Visayas and P5,000 in Mindanao. The median food-poverty threshold, meanwhile, was P6,000 in Metro Manila, P4,000 in the rest of Luzon and P3,000 both in Visayas and Mindanao.
All thresholds have been surpassed in the past, the SWS said.
In Metro Manila, the SWS said the median poverty threshold was equivalent to only P6,146 in terms of 2000 purchasing power. The deflated threshold of below P10,000 per month, it added, is a “throwback to living standards of over 10 years ago.”
The P10,000 per month is equivalent to P16,270 in the September 2010 cost of living and subtracting one from the other yields P6,270, the extent of belt-tightening that took place, the SWS said.
Metro Manila’s median food poverty threshold of P6,000, meanwhile, is equivalent to only P3,883 in terms of 2000 purchasing power. It is equivalent to P9,270 per month at the September 2010 cost of food. Subtracting the 2000 threshold of P6,000 yields P3,270, which is how much food-poor Metro Manila households have lowered their living standards, the SWS said.
Mr. Aquino, in a text message, to BusinessWorld: “Corruption enfeebled [the] government. Our fight is meant to empower government in service of the people focused on the most disadvantaged.”
“The PPP (private public partnerships), the CCT (conditional cash transfer) program are examples of this thrust. Of course, we are heartened by the survey. [But] the problems are huge…
“Growth of the economy and efficiency in effective governance have been done and continue to be priorities,” Mr. Aquino added.
The SWS polled 1,200 adults nationwide last Sept.24-27 using face-to-face interviews. The error margins used were ±3% for national and ±6% for area percentages. — AMGR