Some 3.3 million families went hungry in the last quarter of 2012, about one million families fewer than in the previous quarter, according to the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey.
The survey, conducted on Dec. 8-11, found 16.3 percent of the respondents, or about 3.3 million families, saying that they experienced hunger in the last three months, down from 21 percent or 4.3 million families in August.
The survey, first published in BusinessWorld, showed that the 16.3-percent figure was the lowest since the 15.1 percent (equivalent to 3 million families) recorded in June 2011. A record high 23.8 percent going hungry was reported in March 2012.
Average hunger in 2012 was at 19.9 percent, still higher than the 14-year average (July 1998-December 2012) of 14.5 percent.
SWS asked 1,200 respondents in Filipino: “In the last three months, did it happen even once that your family experienced hunger and did not have anything to eat?”
Those who answered in the affirmative were further asked: “Did it happen only once, a few times, often or always?”
SWS classified experiencing hunger “only once” or “a few times” as “moderate hunger,” while going hungry “often” or “always” was rated as “severe hunger.”
Those who said they experienced “moderate hunger” decreased from 18 percent in August (3.7 million families) to 12.7 percent in December (2.6 million), while those who said they experienced “severe hunger” were slightly up from 3 percent (611,000 families) to 3.6 percent (731,000 families).
Overall hunger declined in all geographic areas with the biggest drop recorded in Mindanao, from 30.3 percent to 20.3 percent.
It decreased by 4 percentage points in the Visayas from 17.3 percent to 13.3 percent, by 3.3 percentage points in the balance of Luzon from 16 percent to 12.7 percent, and by less than a percentage point in Metro Manila from 26 percent to 25.3 percent.
The SWS used face-to-face interviews with a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points for national percentage.
In Malacañang, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte on Tuesday said the government was aware that it had yet to break the back of poverty in the country and that the Aquino administration remained “committed to addressing hunger as a result of poverty.”
“Through social interventions such as the conditional cash transfer (CCT) program which puts a premium on purchasing food for family beneficiaries and the supplemental feeding programs of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the government continues to expand and enhance efforts to uplift the living conditions of our countrymen. These initiatives both mitigate and lay the foundations to help families rise above poverty and better their lives,” Valte said.
In a press briefing at the Palace, presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda attributed the declining hunger incidence primarily to the CCT. Reports from Inquirer Research and Michael Lim Ubac