Posted on 29 October 2014.
Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman stressed that the agency will continue to intensify its various anti-hunger programs to combat poverty and hunger amid the latest result of the Social Weather Station (SWS) survey showing an increase in the number of Filipinos experiencing involuntary hunger in the past three months.
The recent SWS survey showed that an estimated 4.8 million families experience involuntary hunger atleast once in the last three months.
The Secretary reiterated that solving hunger and poverty is not overnight.
“Hindi pang mabilisan ang pagsagot sa kahirapan at pagkagutom. Magandang gawing reference ang mga survey results tulad ng sa SWS, ngunit hindi dapat maging hadlang para huminto tayo sa pagtugon sa pangangailangan ng ating kababayan (Responding to poverty and hunger is not achieved overnight. Survey results like that of the SWS are good references but should not hinder us from implementing poverty alleviation programs),” she explained.
Sec. Soliman also said that the results of the survey do not indicate that programs are not working.
“In fact, without our programs, the survey may have yielded more detrimental results. It is important then to intensify our programs to ensure that the number will not increase anymore,” Sec. Soliman added.
Sec. Soliman explained that the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) or Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program is just among the big-ticket anti-poverty measures of government.
To date, Pantawid Pamilya is already serving 4,396,996 poor households nationwide to address the education, health, and nutritional needs of children.
However, the total impact of Pantawid Pamilya cannot be measured immediately as this is an investment in education and health of children. Its goal is to stop the intergenerational poverty in poor families.
She reiterated her previous statement that, “The investment in the children’s education would only be fully felt ten years from since the program started, when the children have graduated and have been gainfully employed. They will be the ones to help their family get out of poverty.”
Sec. Soliman stressed that Pantawid Pamilya is contributory to poverty reduction but is not the lone solution.
She claimed though that the program has achieved milestones in improving the quality of lives of poor families.
She cited the positive results of the 2nd wave Impact Evaluation for Pantawid Pamilya.
The Impact Evaluation was conducted in 5,041 households in 30 municipalities. The main findings of the study show improvements in the health condition of children beneficiaries and food consumption of household beneficiaries.
Results show that more children in Pantawid Pamilya areas under the age of 6 were given Vitamin A supplementation (85.8%) compared to those in non-Pantawid Pamilya (73.5%). Likewise, more children are fully immunized by age 1 (69.8% vs. 21%), and more children under 6 years old have received iron (35.3% vs. 22.9%).
Moreover, less Pantawid Pamilya children 2 years old and below suffer from severe underweight and severe stunting (0% vs. 39.5% and 4.7% vs. 41%, respectively). There are also less Pantawid Pamilya children 2 years and older who suffer from stunting (26.4% vs. 62.2%).
There is also considerable positive impact on the utilization of both preventive and curative health services in public health facilities. More Pantawid Pamilya children aged 2 to 5 visit health centers bi-monthly to undergo regular weight monitoring (48.9% vs. 24.7%). Pantawid Pamilya children also visit public health centers more often during episodes of illness, such as fever or cough (55.1% vs. 43.4%).
Likewise, a greater proportion of Pantawid Pamilya children aged 6 to 14 received deworming pills at least once a year compared to nonPantawid Pamilya children (88.9% vs. 69.5%).
The study also showed that more Pantawid Pamilya mothers avail of natal care services.
Results also show that Pantawid Pamilya households use their cash grants mostly on food and education. Pantawid Pantawid households’ per capita spending on food is greater compared to non-Pantawid Pamilya households at P16,959 per year compared to P16,026 among non-Pantawid Pamilya households.
With these strides of the program, international organizations have remarked that the Philippines is one of the best implementers of CCT worldwide.
Meanwhile, Sec. Soliman said that the increase of hunger in balance Luzon can be related to the disasters that hit the region like Typhoons Glenda and Mario.
The non-increase of hunger in Mindanao, on the other hand, can be attributed to the significant progresses in the peace process.
“People can plant & harvest anytime without fear of being harmed by lawless elements,” she said.
To combat hunger among children, DSWD in coordination with local government units implements the Supplementary Feeding Program (SFP).
SFP is the provision of food in addition to the regular meals to currently enrolled day care children.
Food supplementation is in the form of hot meals being served during break time.
The feeding program is managed by the parents based on a prepared meal cycle using available indigenous food supplies.
Children-beneficiaries are weighed at the start of the feeding period and three months thereafter. After the completion of 120 feeding days, the improvement and sustenance in the nutritional status of the beneficiaries will be determined.
As of September 30, 2014, the Department has already served 1,120,423 children in 30,409 day care centers in the Philippines amounting to P2,309,449,064 in assistance.
Sec. Soliman agreed with the comment made by Senator Grace Poe that more funds should be channeled to the feeding program for children and delivery of social protection services.
She added that DSWD will look into how it can work with the Senator on this concern.
DSWD is also intensifying its advocacy to fight hunger through an online platform. It has an ongoing partnership with World Food Programme (WFP) and Rappler, an online site, for the conduct of social media fora to generate proposals from various sectors in solving hunger.
Sec. Soliman said that the important thing is that the Aquino Administration remains committed to implement consistent and focused poverty alleviation measures to continuously combat poverty and hunger.
The Secretary also said that these survey results can actually become guide for stakeholders to develop more strategic programs that will redound to the advantage of beneficiaries.###