Thursday, October 9, 2014

10M Filipinos go hungry each day

One in every 10 Filipinos cannot afford to eat.

That's 10 million Filipinos who do not have income adequate enough to meet basic food requirements, says the latest government economic data on how the country is moving towards achieving targets set by the United Nations Millennium Development Goals or MDG.

The MDG aims to raise the poor's living standards next year, or by 2015. The first MDG target is to halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people living on less than $1.25 a day, and halve the proportion of people who suffer from hunger.

The Philippines will meet its targets on food poverty but needs to double or triple efforts to meet the targets on income poverty, said Dr. Arsenio M. Balisacan, Director-General of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) which released the figures.

NEDA observed that employment growth contrasted with economic output. In 2013, the GDP growth rate registered at 7.2 percent, while employment level growth rate was 0.8 percent.

The seemingly conflicting relationship was due to the fact that one-third of the country’s labor force is employed in agriculture, forestry and fishery which account for the smallest GDP contribution, Mr. Balisacan said.

And agriculture is highly sensitive to weather disturbances, he added.

The country will also have to double or triple efforts to meet the targets on nutrition and dietary energy requirement, said Mr. Balisacan, the country's Economic Planning Secretary.

The prevalence of underweight children under five years old decreased by 0.4 percentage points from 20.6 percent in 2008 to 20.2 percent in 2011.

To meet the MDG target of halving the number of underweight children by 2015, we will need to reduce this figure by 6.6 percentage points, or about 1.65 percentage points per year from 2011 to 2015,” Balisacan said.

The proportion of Filipino households with inadequate calorie intake decreased from 74.2 percent in 1990 to 57 percent in 2006.  From 2003 to 2008, however, the proportion increased by 9.9 percentage points, far from the 2015 target of 37.1.

To reach the MDG on halving levels of hunger in 2015, we need to reduce this number by 4 percentage points per year,” said Mr. Balisacan.

As for the second MDG goal of achieving universal primary education, access to elementary education has improved since 1990. The probability of attaining the 2015 target of 100 percent enrollment was elevated from low to high.           

Elementary net enrollment ratio has steadily improved from a low of 83.2 percent in school year 2006-2007 to 95.2 percent in school year 2012-2013. This is a significant achievement as the country approaches the net enrollment ratio target of 100 percent by 2015, Balisacan reported.

While the participation rate has improved, he noted, We have recently performed poorly in ensuring that all pupils stay in school and finish elementary education. Efforts will have to double up to ensure completion rates in elementary schools, he said. (SciPhil)

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