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SWS survey: Hunger incidence down to 15.1% in Q2
The online news portal of TV5

MANILA, Philippines - The Aquino administration’s anti-poverty and hunger mitigation programs have been cited as the reasons for the marked decline in the number of Filipino families that went hungry in the second quarter of 2011 as indicated in the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey.

Results of the June 3-6 nationwide survey published in the June 30 issue of BusinessWorld showed a 5.4 percent quarter-on-quarter drop in the number of families that experienced involuntary hunger, or those that have nothing to eat at least once during the period April to June, this year.

The SWS surveyed a total of 1,200 adults nationwide, using sample error margins of plus or minus 3 percent for national and plus or minus 6 percent for area percentages.

According to the survey, 15.1 percent of the respondents, or about three million families, said they experienced involuntary hunger in the second quarter this year, down from the 20.5 percent, or an estimated 4.1 million families, in the previous quarter as shown by a survey done last March.

The drop in the hunger rate was a reversal of the increases in the past three quarters and the lowest since June 2007 when the rate stood at 14.7 percent.

SWS said the lower nationwide figure resulted from the same path recorded in the self-rated moderate hunger and severe hunger.

Moderate hunger, which refers to the experience of having nothing to eat only once or a few times, stood at 13.1 percent or around 2.6 million families. This is lower by 2.6 percent compared to quarter-ago’s 15.7 percent or about 3.2 million families.

Rates in Balance Luzon, at 7.7 percent from last March’s record high 18.7 percent, and Metro Manila, at 11.3 percent from 16.7 percent, offset the rise in the rates in Visayas by 8.6 points to 18.3 percent and Mindanao by 5.3 points to 20 percent.

Relatively, people who reported having experienced severe hunger, or those having nothing to eat often or always, went down to 2.0 percent, the lowest since 2003.

The 2011 second quarter figure on people reporting to have experienced severe hunger is 403,000, a drop from the previous quarter’s 950,000 families at 4.7 percent.

The Balance Luzon posted the highest drop in the rate of severe hunger at 2.0 percent, down by 4.3 points, followed by the 2.3 points drop in both the Visayas at 2.7 percent and Metro Manila at 1.7 percent. Respondents in Mindanao reported a 0.3 point decline in severe hunger rate to 1.7 percent.

The survey showed large decline in the overall hunger rates both in Metro Manila and the Balance Luzon by 7.7 points and 15.3 points, respectively.

Overall hunger rate in Metro Manila was down to 13 percent, about 366,000 families and the lowest since September 2006’s 12.8 percent, from the end-March 2011’s level of 20.7 percent or about 580,000 families.

The rate in the rest of Luzon, from a record high of 25 percent or 2.2 million families, dropped by 15.3 points to 9.7 percent or 845,000 families.

“It is the first time since December 2004 for hunger to be at the single-digit level in this area,” the SWS said.

On the other hand, hunger rates in the Visayas rose to 21 percent and Mindanao to 21.7 percent.

Quoting Department of Social Welfare and Development Undersecretary Celia C. Yangco, the report said the government’s poverty alleviation programs are now bearing fruit with the help of the private sector and the civil society.

“We in the DSWD believe that this is partly attributable to the poverty reduction and hunger mitigation programs now implemented by the government in partnership with private sectors and civil society organizations,” she said.

Meanwhile, University of the Philippines economist Solita C. Monsod said the measure is “not statistically significant” citing that “hunger is very subjective.”

“We cannot quantify it [as] it tends to move up and down,” she said.

Monsod, on the other hand, said rising employment can be attributed to the drop in the number of people who experienced hunger in the second quarter this year.

“Additional cash transfers may be kicking in,” she added.

The government reported that employment rate rose to 92.8 percent, corresponding to about 36.8 million working Filipinos, last April from 92.6 percent or about 36.29 million in the first month of this year.