MANILA - More Filipino families experienced hunger in the past 3 months, according to a Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey released Thursday, as the coronavirus crisis raged across the country and brought economic activities to a standstill.
The May 4 to 10 poll found that 16.7 percent of respondents went hungry due to lack of available food, which translates to around 4.2 million families nationwide.
The latest figure is the sum of 13.9 percent or 3.5 million families who experienced “moderate hunger” and 2.8 percent or nearly 700,000 families who experienced “severe hunger.”
“This is nearly double the 8.8 percent (est. 2.1 million families) in December 2019, and the highest since the 22.0 percent (est. 4.8 million families) in September 2014,” SWS said in a statement.
The pollster defined "moderate hunger" as experiencing hunger "only once" or "a few times" in the last 3 months, while "severe hunger" refers to experiencing it "often" or "always."
According to the survey, the hunger rate doubled in Metro Manila and Balance Luzon while the Visayas and Mindanao also experienced a rise in hunger.
Metro Manila, the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, appeared to suffer the brunt of the crisis. From 9.3 percent or 307,000 families, the hunger rate in the Philippine capital rose to 20.8 percent or 693,000 families.
Hunger also went up in Balance Luzon to 12.6 percent or 1.4 million families from 6.3 percent or 688,000 families in the December 2019 survey.
In the Visayas, some 14.6 percent or 685,000 families missed meals while 24.2 percent or 1.4 million families went hungry in Mindanao.
The SWS noted that 99 percent of the families surveyed nationwide have received assistance from the government.
Due to lockdown restrictions, the poll was conducted using mobile phone and computer-assisted telephone interviews with 4,010 respondents. It has a margin of error of plus-minus 2 percent for national figures.
Like most countries, the Philippine government imposed lockdown rules, which had taken root for 2 months, to rein in the spread of COVID-19.
Since emerging in Wuhan City in Hubei province, China in December, the novel coronavirus has sickened 13,434 people in the Philippines, whom 846 died while 3,000 survived.