MANILA – Interventions to combat the prevalence of hunger and malnutrition in the Philippines must go beyond band-aid solutions which fail to truly address underlying problems, the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) said.
“We need to understand the hunger situation before we can fully address the problem,” said Nikkin Beronilla, Director of the NAPC Monitoring and Social Technology Services, at the National Hunger Forum held on Friday at the Citystate Tower Hotel in Ermita, Manila.
Despite joint efforts of government and non-governmental organizations, hunger and malnutrition are still widespread in the country.
According to Beronilla, one of the main reasons why Filipino households remain hungry is eating food that is not nutritious which leads to malnourishment.
“We have a wrong concept of nutrition. For instance, we want to ease hunger by eating junk food and drinking softdrinks that do not contain nutrients that we need,” he pointed.
The second reason is linked to poverty, he noted. Latest data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) show that 9.2 percent of Filipino families are considered food poor, or those who do not have sufficient money to buy their basic food needs and satisfy the nutritional requirements set by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI).
To address this, NAPC initiated the Integrated Community Food Production Program (ICFP) that helps poor families and communities grow their own vegetables and fruits, and raise poultry and livestock.
“Feeding program is not the only answer when it comes to combating hunger and malnutrition. Poor families should have their own sources of nutritious food,” said NAPC Secretary Joel Rocamora.
“When poor families produce their own food, we are addressing not only hunger and malnutrition but also poverty,” he added.
Through the program, poor families can also improve their income through selling surplus fruits and vegetables.
In 2015, the program was implemented in 94 local government units (LGUs) through Bottom-up Budgeting (BuB). This year, the number of LGUs implementing the program increased to 309.
The components of the program include the establishment of household and community gardens, capacity building, poultry and small livestock production, production of organic fertilizers.