Press Release
January 31, 2010


Alarmed with the rising hunger incidence in the country, Senator Edgardo J. Angara reiterated the need to adopt and implement aggressive measures to combat hunger and reduce malnutrition.

According to the Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey, involuntary hunger has reached record numbers, with almost one in four Filipino households going hungry in the past three months. The survey, conducted from Dec. 5 to 10, 2009 also found indications that poor families have been lowering their standard of living.

Compared to the results of a similar survey in October, overall hunger rose 11 points in Metro Manila (27 percent or about 665,000 families); eight points in the Visayas (27.9 percent, or about 1 million families); six points in Mindanao (24.5 percent, or about 1 million families); and two points in the rest of Luzon (21.2 percent, or about 1.7 million families).

The glaring statistics, according to the former Agriculture Secretary, only shows the urgency to prioritize hunger mitigation programs that target the country's absolute poor, those who have no means to buy food.

Indian economist Amartya Sen argued that hunger is rooted in the differences in wealth and power among populations, which affect their access to limited resources. The solution, therefore, is redistributing purchasing power and ensuring that people have gainful employment that will provide them the means to access food.

Angara added, "Moreover, there is a need to establish mechanisms and promote national policies that give incentives for maximizing agricultural production. This could solve the problem in two ways: 1) increasing food production to stabilize prices and prevent fluctuations in supply, and 2) raising the incomes of the rural poor who are often the casualties of hunger."

There are dire and alarming concerns within the hunger problem, one of which is malnutrition. Child malnutrition is an obstacle to human capital development and national progress.

Amidst the worsening incidence of child malnutrition, Angara launched a nutrition campaign dubbed, "OMG! (Oh My Gulay!)" to encourage a healthy, inexpensive diet of fruits and vegetables.

The campaign is in response to a World Bank report that the mortality rate for Filipino babies below 5 years old is three times higher in poor families and 3 percent of preschool children are malnourished, thus, diminishing their skills development and hampering their learning process. He said this personal campaign would benefit the next generations of Filipinos.

"Solving hunger and improving nutrition are key factors in eradicating poverty. It is as much an issue of economics as one of welfare, social protection, and human rights," Angara said.

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