On Hunger

by Anne Olaño

The hunger issue has persistently been on the list of problems to address by each administration. Being an agricultural country, it is a wonder why despite the vast number of farmlands and fisheries, the incidence of those who consider themselves as food-poor continues to escalate. In a survey dated September 2009, 53% of the families in the country are experiencing poverty, and the nutritional needs of 35% of this population are not sufficiently met.

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has identified qualitative criteria to define those who are hungry:

              They are of all ages, from babies whose mothers cannot produce enough milk to the elderly with no relatives to care for them. They are the unemployed inhabitants of urban slums, the landless farmers tilling other people’s fields, the orphans of AIDS and the sick, who need special or increased food intake to survive. (2009)

Considering the statistics and definition, the reality of its existence in the Philippines is undeniable. Maria (not her real name) is a mother of eight who lives in a rehabilitated village in a former slum colony. She says that before she lived in her new community, the residents usually earned just enough for one (1) kilogram of rice that was rationed for up to three meals. This was divided among at least five members of the family. If they earned more money, they usually added fish or rice to the meal.

There are, however, instances wherein they did not have money. In those instances, they had to eat only one meal a day or beg off restaurants to give them the leftovers.

Like his father Ninoy, Senator Noynoy Aquino considers hunger among his top priorities. He sees a more grassroots approach to tackling the issue. It starts by allocating the budget to address these issues, notably in the education system. According to him, 

Education has always been a priority in my district. We prioritized this through outright portions of the national budget… As a fiscalizer, I constantly mull over how best to slice the pie that is the national budget. We have endeavored identifying wastage and trying to redirect resources to more profitable areas, as a way to correcting the deficiencies in our system.”

Experts in the field support this view. They assert that government officials, especially local leaders, should increase awareness on the problem through the schools. This helps send the message across different sectors. In effect, more people, experts, and civil society groups will be involved in finding viable solutions for the problem. 

On the administrative side, the annual budget must reflect the government’s willingness to mitigate the problem by sufficiently funding government programs against hunger and providing incentives and to organizations which help in reducing hunger. 

The solutions to the plethora of problems plaguing our country will only be actualized if good governance reigns. While this is a problem that Filipinos must face together, leaders, especially elected officials, must take the initiative in providing solutions such as properly allocating public funds and educating their constituents.

If this happens, we will not only see a reduced number of hungry people but maybe, Filipinos might wake up one day to a poverty-free, first-world country.

 

___

Anne Olaño is a graduate student in Development Policy. She is active in local nation-building projects, including education.

2 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Hunger issue has always been a problem by any president. Connected to hunger is over population. There are a lot of Filipinos having lack of education regarding birth control and thus have a lot of children even if they cannot support them which then leads to hunger. I guess it’s a domino effect.

  2. 2

    Bartholomew Tan said,

    it has nothing to do with birth control and everything to do with government intervention, especially in the economic life of people.

    in the past we had no hunger because it was primarily the charities who were helping the poor, but now it is the govt who is helping the poor, and so now the poor are hungry.

    coincidence, no, not coincidence but causation.

    Its about time that we removed the role of helping the poor and the hungry from the government, where it doesn’t belong, and let us give that role back to the private charitable organizations who are much better and much more efficient at helping the poor.

    Taxpayers money should not be wasted on matters that are not part of the government’s legitimate roles to begin with.

    NO TO WELFARE!!!!

    NO TO SOCIALISM!!!

    NO TO STATISM!!!

    Yes to Christianity!!!

    Yes to Charity!!!


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