Poverty Decreases, but Hunger Rises in the Philippines

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(UPDATE) The latest survey conducted by OCTA Research reveals that the number of Filipinos who consider themselves poor has decreased during the fourth quarter of 2023. However, there has been an increase in the number of individuals experiencing involuntary hunger. These findings shed light on the economic struggles faced by many in the country.

In the survey conducted from December 10th to 14th, 45 percent of the 1,200 respondents, equivalent to 11.9 million families, stated that they consider themselves poor. This represents a slight decrease from the previous quarter, where 46 percent, or 12.1 million families, identified as poor. The decrease in self-rated poverty aligns with the downtrend observed in the third quarter.

While the overall poverty rate decreased, there were regional variations in the survey results. Mindanao saw an increase in self-rated poverty, rising from 58 percent in the previous quarter to 68 percent. On the other hand, the National Capital Region experienced a notable decline in self-rated hunger, decreasing from 41 percent to 28 percent. The Visayas also witnessed a decline, from 59 percent to 47 percent.

Notably, the survey found that 53 percent of respondents reported that their state of poverty in the country remained the same. However, there was an increase in the percentage of individuals who believed that the state of poverty had worsened, rising from 29 percent in the previous quarter to 33 percent in the current quarter. Among the regions, Balance Luzon had the highest percentage (59 percent) stating that the state of poverty remained the same.

When examining the socioeconomic classes, Class D had the highest percentage (15 percent) of respondents indicating that they were less poor. Conversely, Class E had the highest percentage (45 percent) reporting that they were poorer than before. Class ABC had the highest percentage (68 percent) stating that the state of poverty remained the same as before.

The survey also revealed insights into the financial needs of poor Filipinos. The median amount required for home expenses in order for them not to be considered poor anymore was P20,000 per month, lower than the P33,000 per month reported in October.

In addition to the decrease in self-rated poverty, the survey highlighted a concerning rise in involuntary hunger. The number of families experiencing involuntary hunger increased to 14 percent, equivalent to 3.7 million families, up from 10 percent, or 2.6 million families, in the previous quarter. This increase, amounting to around 1.1 million families, deviated from the downtrend observed in the second and third quarters of 2023.

When broken down by region, Visayas had the highest percentage (19 percent) of respondents reporting involuntary hunger, followed by Mindanao (18 percent), Balance Luzon (11 percent), and the National Capital Region (8 percent). Mindanao saw a significant increase in the number of individuals experiencing involuntary hunger, rising from 9 percent to 18 percent.

Among those who reported experiencing hunger, 89 percent stated that they were hungry either once or a few times, while 11 percent indicated that they were hungry often or always. The survey also found that 42 percent of respondents identified as “food-poor,” struggling to obtain a sufficient and healthful diet. This represents approximately 11.1 million families, a 1-percent drop from the previous survey. Self-rated food poverty was highest in Mindanao, with 71 percent of respondents indicating food poverty.

The OCTA Research survey provides valuable insights into the poverty and hunger situation in the Philippines. While there has been a slight decrease in self-rated poverty, the rise in involuntary hunger highlights the ongoing challenges faced by many Filipino families. These findings call for continued efforts to address poverty and ensure access to sufficient and nutritious food for all.

Source: The Manila Times

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