THE number of Filipino families experiencing involuntary hunger in the first quarter of this year has become fewer, according to pollster Social Weather Stations (SWS).
The March 25 to 28 survey showed that 11.9 percent or an estimated 2.7 million families had nothing to eat at least once in the past three months.
The latest figure was two percentage points below the 13.9 percent or an estimated 3.1 million families registered in the December 2016 poll.
The SWS attributed the two-percentage points decline to fewer families reporting hunger from "self-rated poor," "self-rated non-poor," "self-rated food poor," and "self-rated food non-poor."
The hunger rate in the first quarter of this year was down by 3.9 percentage points among self-rated poor to 17.1 percent from December's 21 percent.
The poll also showed that hunger rate among self-rated food poor declined by 4.2 percentage points, from 24.9 percent in December to 20.7 percent.
The SWS said the number of families experiencing "moderate hunger" or lacking food to eat "only once" or "a few times" in the first quarter of 2017 declined to 9.7 percent or about 2.2 million families from December's 10.9 percent.
On the other hand, families who experienced "severe hunger" or had nothing to eat "often" or "always" in the last three months fell to 2.2 percent or around 510,000 families from three percent in December.
"The few who did not state their frequency of hunger were classified under moderate hunger," the SWS said.
Hunger rate in geographic areas dropped, except to the bailiwick of President Rodrigo Duterte in Mindanao.
In Metro Manila, hunger rate was logged at 12 percent, a percentage point down from December. "Moderate hunger" in the area rose to 10 percent from December's eight percent while "severe hunger" was only two percent from five percent posted in December.
The hunger rate in Balance Luzon was registered at 11.3 percent, down by 3.7 percentage points from 15 percent in December. Both "severe" and "moderate" hunger in the region fell to 2.3 percent and nine percent, respectively.
Hunger rate in Visayas dropped to 13.7 percentage from 16.7 percent in December, from which "moderate hunger" fell to 11.7 percent from 14 percent and "severe hunger" barely changed to two percent from 2.7 percent.
In Mindanao, the hunger rate rose to 11.7 percent, 1.7 percentage points higher than December's 10 percent. "Moderate hunger" in the region increased by 0.4 percentage points to 9.3 percent while "severe hunger" surged by two percentage points to 2.3 percent from "record-low" 0.3 percent.
In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the latest poll "affirms the positive impact of the Duterte administration's poverty alleviation efforts on the lowest rung of society."
Abella cited that government's immediate pro-poor and inclusive efforts include social protection to the poor, the marginalized and the neglected sectors.
He said "conditional cash transfer to the poorest of the poor, higher pension for seniors, free medicine for indigents, added incentive and combat duty pay for police and soldiers, gratuity pay to job order and contract workers in the government and regularization of tens of thousands of employees" are in place to alleviate poverty.
"The government’s long-term goal, however, is to improve the lives of Filipinos across sectors, through effective delivery of goods and services, like increased spending in infrastructure projects and the promotion of easy access micro-financing system," Abella said.
The survey, which was first published by newspaper Business World, interviewed 1,200 adult respondents.
It used sampling error margins of ±3 percentage points for quarterly national percentages (±6 percentage points each for Metro Manila, Balance Luzon and Mindanao), and ±1.5 percentage points for annual averages. (SunStar Philippines)