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3 million Filipinos suffer involuntary hunger


Filipino children too poor to afford anything ask for alms along the streets of Manila. | Photo by Clemente Bautista / bulatlat.com

Fourth Quarter 2010 Social Weather Survey:

Hunger up to 18.1% of families;

49% rate themselves as Mahirap or Poor
Social Weather Stations

The Fourth Quarter 2010 Social Weather Survey, fielded over November 27-30, 2010, found the proportion of families experiencing involuntary hunger at least once in the past three months up to 18.1%, or an estimated 3.4 million families.

The latest Hunger rate is higher than 15.9% (est. 3.0 million families) in the previous quarter, but lower than the over 20% levels from December 2009 to June 2010. It is one point below the one-year average of 19.1%, but over 4 points above the 12-year average of 13.7% [Chart 1, Table 1].

The measure of Hunger refers to involuntary suffering because the respondents answer a survey question that specifies hunger due to lack of anything to eat.

The November 2010 survey also found that 49% (estimated 9.2 million) families consider themselves as Mahirap or Poor, hardly changing from 48% in September 2010 [Chart 2, Table 2], and 36% (estimated 6.7 million) consider themselves as Food-Poor, 2 points down from 38% in the previous quarter [Chart 3, Table 3].

Severe Hunger at 3.1%, Moderate Hunger at 15.0%

The 2-point increase in Overall Hunger between September and November 2010 resulted from a 2-point increase in Moderate Hunger, combined with an unchanged Severe Hunger rate.

Moderate Hunger, referring to those who experienced it "Only Once" or "A Few Times" in the last three months, rose by over 2 points from 12.9% (est. 2.4 million families) in September to 15.0% (est. 2.8 million families) in November. The few who did not state their frequency of Hunger were also placed in this category.

Severe Hunger, referring to those who experienced it "Often" or "Always" in the last three months, stayed at 3.1% (est. 588,000 families) from September to November.
Hunger rose in all areas except Visayas

Overall Hunger rose by almost 4 points in Balance Luzon, from 14.7% (est. 1.2 million families) in September to 18.3% (est. 1.5 million families) in November, by almost 2 points in Mindanao, from 16.3% (est. 700,000 families) to 18.0% (est. 770,000 families), and by over one point in Metro Manila, from 20.3% (est. 507,000 families) to 21.7%.

It stayed at 15.3% (est. 580,000 families) in the Visayas [Chart 4, Table 4].

Moderate Hunger rose by almost 3 points in Mindanao, from 13.3% in September to 16.0% in November, by over 2 points in Balance Luzon, from 12.3% to 14.7%, by 2 points in Metro Manila, from 15.7% to 17.7%, and by 1 point in the Visayas, from 11.7% to 12.7% [Charts 5 to 8, Tables 5 to 8].

The latest Moderate Hunger rates are still higher than their 12-year averages for all areas.

Severe Hunger rose by over one point in Balance Luzon, from 2.3% in September to 3.7% in November.

It declined by 1 point in Mindanao, from 3.0% to 2.0%, by one point in the Visayas, from 3.7% to 2.7%, and by almost one point in Metro Manila, from 4.7% to 4.0%.

The latest Severe Hunger rates are higher than their 12-year averages in Metro Manila and Balance Luzon, and lower in Mindanao and the Visayas.

Self-rated Poverty and Food Poverty

Self-Rated Poverty fell by 9 points in Mindanao, from 53% in September to 44% in November, by 8 points in the Visayas, from 61% to 53%, and by 5 points in Metro Manila, from 49% to 44%.

It rose by 11 points in Balance Luzon, from 40% to 51% [Chart 9, Table 9].

It declined by one point in urban areas, from 43% to 42%, and stayed at 55% in rural areas [Chart 10, Table 10].

Self-Rated Food Poverty declined by 13 points in Metro Manila, from 41% in September to 28% in November, by 11 points in the Visayas, from 50% to 39%, and by 2 points in Mindanao, from 36% to 34%.

It rose by 6 points in Balance Luzon, from 32% to 38% [Chart 11, Table 11].

Poverty thresholds still sluggish everywhere

The Self-Rated Poverty Threshold, or the monthly budget that poor households need in order not to consider themselves poor in general, remain sluggish for several years despite considerable inflation. This indicates that poor families have been lowering their living standards, i.e., belt-tightening.

As of November 2010, the median poverty threshold for poor households is P15,000 in Metro Manila, P9,000 in Balance Luzon, P8,000 in the Visayas, and P5,000 in Mindanao. These amounts have already been surpassed in the past in those areas [Chart 12, Table 12].

The median food-poverty threshold for poor households in Metro Manila is P9,000, the highest for this area since SWS began surveying it in September 1996. The previous record-high was P8,000 in March 2004.

The median food-poverty threshold is P4,000 in Balance Luzon, P4,000 in the Visayas, and P3,000 in Mindanao. These amounts had already been surpassed several years ago [Chart 13, Table 13].

Measurement of belt-tightening

In Metro Manila in particular, the median poverty threshold of P15,000 is barely above P10,000 as in 2000, even though the Consumer Price Index (CPI) has risen there by over 60% since.

The NCR median poverty threshold of P15,000 per month for November 2010 is equivalent to only P 9,096 in base year 2000 purchasing power, after deflation by the CPI. The deflated poverty threshold for NCR of below P10,000 per month is a throwback to living standards of almost fifteen years ago [Chart 14, Table 14].

In four SWS surveys in 2000, the base year of the CPI, the median SWS poverty threshold for NCR was already P10,000 per month, equivalent to P16,490 per month at the November 2010 cost of living, given the CPI of 164.9. The difference of P16,490 - P15,000 = P1,490 between the thresholds of 2000 and November 2010 measures the extent of belt-tightening that took place.

On the other hand, median food poverty threshold of P9,000 in Metro Manila is equivalent to only P5,729 in base year 2000 purchasing power for food [Chart 15, Table 15].

The median food poverty threshold in December 2000 was P6,000 for Metro Manila. It is equivalent to P9,426 per month at the November 2010 cost of food, given the CPI of 157.1 for food items. The difference of P9,426 – P9,000 = P426 between the food thresholds of 2000 and November 2010 is the extent of belt-tightening made by food-poor Metro Manila households.

Survey Background

The November 2010 Social Weather Survey was conducted from November 27-30, 2010 using face-to-face interviews of 1,200 adults in Metro Manila, the Balance of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao (sampling error margins of ±3% for national percentages, ±6% for area percentages).

The area estimates were weighted by National Statistics Office medium-population projections for 2010 to obtain the national estimates.

The SWS survey questions about the family's experience of hunger, self-rated poverty, and self-rated food-poverty are directed to the household head. These items are non-commissioned, and are always included on SWS's own initiative and released as a public service, with first printing rights assigned to BusinessWorld.

SWS employs its own staff for questionnaire design, sampling, fieldwork, data-processing, and analysis, and does not outsource any of its survey operations.

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