MANILA (Mindanao Examiner / 21 Dec) - The Arroyo government said the Philippine economy is improving, jobs are many and poor families lesser since she became President in 2001.
Her political allies also say the same; they sing in unison and applause their own. But the latest reports of the independent Social Weather Survey speaks the truth.
Here is the Fourth Quarter 2006 Social Weather Survey: Hunger at new record-high 19.0% of families; 52% are Self-Rated Poor, 40% are Self-Rated Food-Poor!
The proportion of families experiencing involuntary hunger at least once in the past three months reached a new record-high of 19.0%, or an estimated 3.3 million households, according to the final 2006 Social Weather Survey, last November 24-29.
The previous record-high incidence of household hunger was 16.9%, reached in both March 2006 and September 2006. Hunger has now been at double-digits for the past eleven consecutive quarters, since June 2004.
The new SWS survey also found 52% families reporting themselves as Poor in general, and 40% reporting themselves as Poor in terms of Food.
Hunger increased especially in Metro Manila and the Balance of Luzon
Hunger rose by almost five points in Metro Manila, from 12.8% in September to 17.7% in November. It rose by three points in the rest of Luzon, from 14.7% in September 2006 to 17.7% in November.
Hunger rose by only one point in Mindanao, from 21.3% to 22.3%. It declined slightly in the Visayas, from 19.7% to 19.0%.
Moderate Hunger at record high 15.1%
Moderate Hunger, defined as households experiencing it involuntarily “Only Once” or “A Few Times” in the last three months, rose from 12.3% in the previous quarter to a new record-high 15.1%, surpassing the previous record of 12.9% in August 2005.
Severe Hunger, defined as households involuntarily hungry “Often” or “Always” in the last three months, declined somewhat, from 4.6% in September to 3.9% in November.
Moderate Hunger rose by over 4 points in Metro Manila (from 8.2% to 12.7%) and in the rest of Luzon (from 10.3% to 14.7%). It rose by less than 2 points in the Visayas (from 13.7% to 15.3%), and remained steady at 17.3% in Mindanao.
Severe Hunger went up in Metro Manila (from 4.6% to 5.0%), and in Mindanao (from 4.0% to 5.0%). However, it declined in the balance of Luzon (from 4.3% to 3.0%), and in the Visayas (from 6.0% to 3.7%).
Overall Self-Rated Poverty hardly changed at the national level, being 51% in September and 52% in November [Chart 3]. It hardly changed in Mindanao (from 53% to 54%), and in Luzon outside Metro Manila (from 45% to 48%).
Self-Rated Poverty declined by 11 points in the Visayas, from 66% to 55%. On the other hand, it rose by 8 points in Metro Manila, from 46% to 54%.
Median Self-Rated Poverty thresholds
The Median Self-Rated Poverty threshold, or the median monthly budget in peso-terms that poor households say they need to escape poverty, rose in Metro Manila, from P10,000 in September to P12,000 in November.
It remained steady in Visayas, at P6,000, and in Mindanao, at P5,000
The Median Self-Rated Poverty threshold went down in the balance of Luzon, from P6,000 to P5,000.
Self-Rated Food Poverty
Forty percent of Filipino households consider themselves as Poor based on the type of food their family eats. Twenty-seventy percent put themselves on the Borderline, and 32% consider themselves as Not Food-Poor.
Self-Rated Food Poverty declined in the Visayas, from 55% in September to 42% in November, and in Luzon outside Metro Manila, from 40% to 37% [Chart 7]. It barely changed in Mindanao (from 40% to 41%).
However, it rose by 7 points in Metro Manila, from 38% in September to 45% in November.
Self-Reported Poverty and Hunger are consistent
Long survey experience shows that household heads’ reports about poverty in general, poverty in terms of food, and hunger are internally consistent.
In the November 2006 survey, the proportion of households experiencing hunger in the past three months is 30% among the Self-Rated Food-Poor, compared to only 13% among the Not Food-Poor,and 10% among those on the Food-Borderline.
The said survey has hunger at 25% among the Self-Rated Poor, compared to only 13% among the Not Poor, and 12% among those on the Borderline.
As a concept, poverty allows for various degrees of deprivation. A rise in hunger while poverty is flat, over a period of time, implies a worsening of deprivation among families at the lower end of the poverty spectrum.
The SWS survey questions about household poverty and hunger are directed to the household head. They are standard non-commissioned items in the Social Weather Surveys. By using the phrase “nakaranas ng gutom at wala kayong makain” or “experienced hunger without anything to eat,” the hunger item specifically refers to involuntary suffering.
The Social Weather Surveys referred to in this release used face-to-face interviews of a national sample of 1,200 statistically representative household heads (300 each in Metro Manila, the Balance of Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao), from 240 geographical spots selected from all regions. Error margins of ±3% for national percentages and ±6% for regional percentages should be applied.
The area estimates were weighted by the National Statistics Office’s medium-projections for 2006 to obtain the national estimates. (SWS)