THE number of Filipinos who reported involuntary hunger decreased in the first quarter of 2017, results of a survey by Social Weather Stations (SWS) showed.
The poll, which was conducted from March 25 to 28 with 1,200 adult respondents, showed that 11.9 percent or an estimated 2.7 million households missed a meal at least once in the past quarter.
This was two percentage points below the 13.9 percent or 3.1 million families who experienced involuntary hunger in the December poll. Hunger affected 13.7 percent or 3.1 million Filipino families in the first quarter of 2016.
Of the 11.9 percent who reported involuntary hunger in the first quarter, 9.7 percent said they experienced “moderate hunger” and 2.2 percent went through “severe hunger.”
Ratings for “moderate hunger” and “severe hunger” fell by 1.2 and 0.8 points, respectively, from the previous quarter, SWS said.
Those who experienced “moderate hunger” were those who went hungry “only once” or “a few times” in the past three months. “Severe hunger” means the respondents experienced hunger “often” or “always.”
“The few who did not state their frequency of hunger were classified under moderate hunger,” SWS said.
The same survey also revealed a drop in the hunger rate in all regions, except in Mindanao, the bailiwick of President Rodrigo Duterte.
The hunger rate in Mindanao for the first quarter of 2017 rose to 11.7 percent from December’s 10 percent. In Metro Manila, the hunger rate slid by one point to 12 percent.
In Balance Luzon (Luzon except Metro Manila), the hunger rate stood at 11.3 percent, down by 3.7 points from the previous survey. The hunger rate plummeted by three points in the Visayas to 13.7 percent.
First published on BusinessWorld, the SWS survey had sampling error margins of ±3 points for national percentages and ±6 points for regional ratings.
Malacañang welcomed the latest SWS result.
“This latest finding…affirms the positive impact of the Duterte administration’s poverty alleviation efforts on the lowest rung of society,” presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a statement.
The government’s immediate pro-poor and inclusive efforts, he said, include social protection for the poor, the marginalized and the neglected sectors, such as conditional cash transfers, higher pension for seniors, free medicines for indigents, incentive and combat duty pay for police and soldiers, gratuity pay to job-order and contract workers in the government and regularization of tens of thousands of employees.
“The government’s long-term goal, however, is to improve the lives of Filipinos across sectors, through effective delivery of goods and services, like increased spending in infrastructure projects and the promotion of an easy-access microfinancing system,” Abella said.
CATHERINE S. VALENTE