MANILA — Around 4.2 million Filipino families experienced hunger due to lack of food at least once in the past 3 months, according to an opinion poll that the Social Weather Stations released on Monday.
Of 1,200 household heads that the SWS polled from April 28 to May 2, about 16.8 percent said their families experienced involuntary hunger.
The May 2021 Hunger rate is 0.8 points above the 16.0 percent or estimated 4.0 families in November 2020. It is 4.3 points below the 2020 annual average of 21.1 percent, but still double the December 2019 pre-pandemic level of 8.8 percent or around 2.1 million families, said the pollster.
Mindanao now has the highest incidence of Hunger at 20.7 percent or 1.2 million families, said SWS.
Visayas follows at 16.3 percent or 776,000 families, Balance Luzon at 15.7 percent or 1.8 million families, and Metro Manila at 14.7 percent or 496,000 families, the poll found.
The SWS said in November 2020, hunger was at 23.3 percent in Metro Manila, 16.0 percent in Mindanao, 14.4 percent in Balance Luzon, and 14.3 percent in the Visayas.
The 16.8 percent hunger rate in May 2021 is the sum of 14.1 percent or 3.6 million families who experienced moderate hunger and 2.7 percent or 674,000 families who experienced severe hunger.
Moderate hunger refers to those who experienced hunger "only once" or "a few times" in the last 3 months. Meanwhile, severe hunger refers to those who experienced it "often" or "always" in the last 3 months, the SWS said.
It said the non-commissioned survey had a sampling error margin of ±3 percent for national percentages.
A surge in coronavirus cases had forced the government to place Metro Manila and 4 surrounding provinces under the strictest of 4 lockdown levels in late March.
This resulted in the temporary closure of several industries and the loss of some 1.5 million jobs, the trade department said.
During that time, the social welfare department distributed food packs, on top of a fresh round of cash aid. The labor department meanwhile offered loans to businesses and rolled out a cash for work program, Malacañang said.
The NCR Plus area was eventually downgraded to the second strictest quarantine level in mid-April, before shifting to the second loosest lockdown level, with heightened restrictions, in May.