Hunger rates up in last quarter of 2016

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Some 3.1 million families experienced involuntary hunger at least once in the last three months of 2016, according to the latest survey by the Social Weather Stations (SWS).

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The poll conducted from December 3 to 6 last year showed that 13.9 percent of 1,500 respondents, or an estimated 3.1 million families, said they had nothing to eat at least once in the past three months. The number was 3.3 percentage points higher than the 10.6 percent or 2.4 million families who went hungry once in September and 2.2 points more than December 2015’s 11.7 percent or 2.6 million families.

The survey found that the number of Filipinos who went hungry at least once in 2016 was the lowest since 2004.

“The measure of hunger refers to involuntary suffering because the respondents answer a survey question that specifies hunger due to lack of food to eat,” the pollster said.

SWS said 10.9 percent or an estimated 2.5 million families said they experienced “moderate hunger” and 3.0 percent or an estimated 673,000 families experienced “severe hunger.”

Moderate hunger refers to those who experienced hunger “only once” or “a few times” in the last three months, while “severe hunger” refers to those who experienced it “often” or “always.”

The SWS survey also showed that the number of those who experienced “moderate” and “severe” hunger in the last quarter of 2016 was relatively stable compared to the third quarter and a year ago.

In September 2016, 9.1 percent said they experienced moderate hunger while 1.5 percent experienced severe hunger. In December 2015, moderate hunger was at 8.9 percent and severe hunger at 2.8 percent.

In Metro Manila, 13.0 percent of respondents or 399,000 families said they were hungry, up from 7.3 percent or 225,000 families in September.

Hunger also rose in “Balance Luzon” to 15.0 percent or 1.5 million families from 11.7 percent in September, bringing the 2016 average to 13.6 percent from 12.4 percent in 2015.

Hunger also went up by 3.7 points to 16.7 percent in the Visayas while in Mindanao, it increased by 1.7 percent to 10.0 percent.

Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar attributed the hunger rate “to the rise in consumer prices” at the time the survey was conducted.

“Weather disturbances, plus seasonal demand due to to the Christmas holidays, contributed to the uptick in food inflation which resulted in the aforementioned public sentiment,” Andanar said in a statement. CATHERINE S. VALENTE

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