MANILA, Philippines – The Council for Health and Development (CHD), the national secretariat of more than 70 community-based health programs in the Philippines, underscored that food and proper nutrition are an integral part of basic human rights. (READ: World Food Day 2015 to highlight social protection vs rural hunger)
Everyone is entitled to good nutrition regardless of their social or economic status.
This is the primary focus of 2017 World Food Day being celebrated on Monday, October 16. (READ: INFOGRAPHIC: Why we celebrate World Food Day)
Food scarcity, malnutrition
Around 2.2 million Filipino families suffer from food scarcity and malnutrition, according to a Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey. These families, especially those in the countryside, comprise the bulk of the population.
CHD said food security among poor families in the countryside is "perpetually weakened, due to restrictive trade policies, low farm productivity, and income."
Another SWS survey early this year found that an estimated 3.1 million Filipino families experienced involuntary hunger at least once in the 4th quarter of 2016. (READ: SWS: 3.1 million Filipino families suffer from hunger in Q4 2016)
The Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) also noted worsening malnutrition, saying in a 2016 report that "stunting rates were 30.3% and 33.4% in 2013 and 2015, respectively."
Chronic malnutrition among children 0-2 years old is at 26.2% – the highest it has been in a decade. (READ: INFOGRAPHIC: PH hunger in numbers)
Land reform is key
"The most effective and efficient solution to the current food crisis in the Philippines is genuine land reform to strategically address the peasants' age-old cry for land, and providing them with the means to make their land productive and achieve national food security," said CHD executive director Eleanor Jara.
Another survey, conducted by Ibon Foundation in 2016, found that over 70% of Filipinos consider themselves poor.
The diet of majority of urban poor families consists of instant noodles, dried fish, and white rice, while rural poor families eat mostly local agricultural produce.
"The small and disenfranchised farmers have barely enough to feed themselves and their families," Jara said.
"If the farmers themselves, the producers of food for the national population, have nothing to eat, then it is no surprise that the country is suffering from a nationwide food and malnutrition crisis." – Rappler.com