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Addressing food poverty

Manila Standard

The United Nations Children’s Fund has raised the warning: More than one in four children under the age of five worldwide live in “severe” food poverty.

This means over 180 million are at risk of experiencing adverse impacts on their growth and development.

In the Philippines (population 114 million), more than 13 million children – more than a third of all children in the country – live below the poverty line but the government has been aiming to reduce the poverty rate to 14 per cent by the early part of this decade.

UNICEF, which has offices in different countries including the Philippines, recommends young children eat foods daily from five of eight main groups — breast milk; grains, roots, tubers and plantains; pulses, nuts and seeds; dairy; meat, poultry and fish; eggs; vitamin A-rich fruits and vegetables; and other fruits and vegetables.

But 440 million children under the age of five living in about 100 low- and middle-income countries are living in food poverty, meaning they do not have access to five food groups each day.

Of those, 181 million are experiencing severe food poverty, eating from at most two food groups.

“Children who consume just two food groups per day — for example, rice and some milk — are up to 50 percent more likely to experience severe forms of malnutrition,” according to UNICEF chief Catherine Russell in a statement accompanying the report.

That malnutrition can lead to emaciation, a state of being abnormally thin that can be fatal.

Glad the Philippine government has adopted a 25-year long-term vision, via an executive order on Oct. 11, 2016 – supported by the Manila-based Asian Development Bank – as a guide for development planning to end poverty in this archipelagic nation by 2040.

The Ambisyon Natin 2040 (Our Ambition 2040) vision states by 2040 the Philippines will be a prosperous, predominantly middle-class society where no one is poor.

All future Philippine development plans to be crafted and implemented until 2040 will be anchored on Ambisyon Natin 2040 which will ensure the sustainability and consistency of government strategies, policies, programs and projects across political administrations.

Ambisyon Natin 2040, which reflects the long-term vision and aspirations of the Filipino people for themselves and for the country, is supported by ADB through technical assistance to the National Economic and Development Authority.

A national survey by NEDA as part of the visioning exercise showed 79 percent of Filipinos want a ‘comfortable and simple life’ by 2040.

It revealed the most important economic goal is the eradication of poverty and hunger, and creating adequate jobs for all.

The survey also revealed the strong desire of Filipinos to work in their home country rather than overseas, and the importance of family togetherness in their futures.

We support communication and advocacy activities involving local governments and sectors like the academe, civil society and private institutions to establish ground and gather support and commitment.

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