Author: Sigrid Salucop
Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Philippine Statistics Authority.
Are we going hungry? Yes, we are but before I give you the numbers, let me tell you a little story.
While in grade school, back in the sleepy town where I grew up, my teachers would give boiled plantains to underweight children to ensure that they are the right weight once they step on the scales. The government recorded these things and weirdly enough, public schools wanted to get what they defined as good results. I didn’t have an understanding as to why the teachers did what they did but it may have had something to do with scores of some kind.
The results probably looked good on paper at the time but what didn’t look good is the reality that we have been seeing every day for decades. I have seen parents in poor urban communities give their children rice water instead of milk. Others gave their kids coffee. This was a depressing thing to see and it didn’t help that the kids were skin and bones.
The Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development Foundation, Inc. (PLCPD) says “19.9 percent of Filipino children were recorded to be underweight” in 2015. Poverty plays a significant role in this and is most likely the only reason why many children do not get the nourishment they need. This isn’t surprising at all because poor families in the Philippines only make around P6,000 a month.
Children and adults go hungry for weeks or months at a time and all of them have that undeniable and ever-present pain in their stomachs. Numbers are not needed for that sensation. Many from the middle class have experienced that kind of hunger at one point, too. It’s just that their experiences are not recorded. What is recorded is that 13.5 percent of families in the Philippines experienced hunger in 2015 and that one out of 10 Filipino adults has chronic energy deficiency.
Food Security and Access
Despite the many policies that seek to provide food security in the Philippines, old problems persist and new problems such as climate change add to the burden.
Achieving food security is difficult in this country and like other poor nations, the government and its people have to deal with food production and sustainability problems. Farmers, on the other hand, need to adapt to climate change to ensure that their crops grow.