Around 4.2 million Filipino families have experienced involuntary hunger for the past three months due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, a survey from the Social Weather Stations revealed recently.
The SWS survey result doubles the country’s hunger rate from 8.8 percent in December 2019 to 16.7 percent in May 2020.
According to SWS, the 16.7 percent hunger rate is also the highest since September 2014, when the survey firm recorded a 22 percent hunger count.
The special SWS COVID-19 Mobile Phone Survey, conducted from May 4 to 10, noted these families faced involuntary hunger due to lack of food to eat.
The SWS survey was conducted using mobile phone and computer-assisted telephone interviews of 4,010 Filipinos aged 15 and above; 294 were from Metro Manila, 1,645 from Balance Luzon, 792 from Visayas, and 1,279 were from Mindanao.
Complaints from beneficiaries and local governments arose in the slow distribution of the first batch of the social amelioration program, which was instituted by the national government to support low-income families during the quarantine, the SWS said in their survey.
However, the non-commissioned SWS survey showed that 99 percent of the families received help during the COVID-19 crisis, mostly from the government.
Other food sources for these families identified in the survey are from relatives, private groups or institutions, friends, and private individuals.
Among the 4.2 million families, some 3.5 million of them faced moderate hunger while around 699,000 experienced severe hunger, SWS said.
SWS defines moderate hunger as experiencing hunger “only once” or “a few times” in the last three months. Severe hunger are those experiencing hunger “often” or “always” in the same timeframe.
Moderate hunger rose from 7.3 percent in December 2019 to 13.9 percent in May 2020, the second-highest tally after 14.1 percent in September 2015.
Severe hunger rose from 1.5 percent in December 2019 to 2.7 percent in May 2020, the highest since 2.8 percent was posted in September 2018.
Hunger rates in Metro Manila, Balance Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao also increased significantly in the latest SWS survey.
The survey also showed that people with less formal education have experienced hunger during the COVID-19 pandemic./Stacy Ang