THE number of families experiencing hunger in Metro Manila and Mindanao were on the decline but their numbers in Balance Luzon and the Visayas were on the rise even if the country was already in the thick of Christmas preparations, according to the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey.
The SWS survey estimated that 3 million families or 11.8 million of all families experienced involuntary hunger at least once in the past three months. Involuntary hunger is defined as being hungry and not having anything to eat.
The December 2022 Hunger figure is higher than the 2.89 million families who experienced involuntary hunger in October 2022 and 2.95 million families in June 2022. However, it is slightly below the 3.1 million families in April 2022.
“The experience of hunger is highest in Mindanao at 12.7 percent of families, followed by the Visayas at 12 percent, Metro Manila at 11.7 percent, and Balance Luzon (or Luzon outside Metro Manila) at 11.3 percent. It has been highest in Mindanao in 38 out of 100 surveys since July 1998,” SWS added.
The SWS said the 0.5-point increase in Overall Hunger between October 2022 and December 2022 was due to increases in the Visayas and Balance Luzon, combined with decreases in Metro Manila and Mindanao.
Compared to October 2022, the incidence of hunger rose by 5 points in the Visayas to 12 percent or 576,000 families from 7 percent or 336,000 families.
The data also showed that it rose by 1.7 points in Balance Luzon to 11.3 percent or 1.3 million families from 9.6 percent or 1.1 million families in October.
However, it fell by 4.6 points in Metro Manila to 11.7 percent or 399,000 families from 16.3 percent or 558,000 families in October.
It also fell by 2.6 points in Mindanao to 12.7 percent or 738,000 families from 15.3 percent or 893,000 families in October 2022.
Meanwhile, SWS said the hunger rate in December 2022 is the sum of 9.5 percent or 2.4 million families who experienced Moderate Hunger and 2.3 percent or 599,000 families who experienced Severe Hunger.
“Moderate Hunger refers to those who experienced hunger ‘Only Once’ or ‘A Few Times’ in the last three months. Meanwhile, Severe Hunger refers to those who experienced it ‘Often’ or ‘Always’ in the previous three months,” SWS explained.
The SWS also said the December 2022 survey found 51 percent of Filipino families rated themselves as Mahirap or Poor while 31 percent rated themselves as Borderline poor and 19 percent said they were Hindi Mahirap or Not Poor.
The rate of Overall Hunger or Moderate plus Severe rose among the Non-Poor to 7.8 percent in December 2022 from 6.7 percent in October 2022.
However, SWS said the data showed it fell slightly among the Self-Rated Poor to 15.7 percent in December 2022 from 16 percent in October 2022.
At the same time, SWS data showed the rate of Overall Hunger rose among the Non-Food-Poor to 11.8 percent in December 2022 from 7.4 percent in October 2022.
However, it fell slightly among the Self-Rated Food-Poor to 17.7 percent in December 2022 from 18.9 percent in October 2022.
Based on the type of food eaten by their families, the December 2022 survey found 34 percent of families rated themselves Food-Poor.
Some 38 percent rated themselves Food Borderline and 28 percent, Not Food-Poor.
“Rates of hunger among the Self-Rated Food-Poor are always higher than rates of hunger among the Self-Rated Poor at any point in time,” the SWS said.
The Fourth Quarter 2022 Social Weather Survey was conducted from December 10-14, 2022, using face-to-face interviews of 1,200 adults (18 years old and above) nationwide: 300 each in Metro Manila, Balance Luzon, the Visayas, and Mindanao.
Face-to-face is the standard interviewing method for Social Weather Stations; the only exceptions were early in the pandemic when movement restrictions made face-to-face impossible and mobile phone interviews were conducted.
Normal face-to-face field operations resumed in November 2020. The sampling error margins are ±2.5 percent for national percentages, ±5.7 percent each for Metro Manila, Balance Luzon, the Visayas, and Mindanao.
Image credits: Nonie Reyes