December 15, 2015
As we commemorate Human Rights Month this December, we should ponder upon the situation of many Filipinos who are deprived of the fundamental right to adequate food.
Despite efforts to address hunger and malnutrition in the country, 15.7 percent of households or about three and a half million Filipinos went hungry at least one in the third quarter of 2015, according to the Social Weather Stations (SWS).
A UN World Food Programme/Rappler survey conducted in August to September 2015 among 1,600 respondents from the 16 poorest provinces in the Philippines also showed that 26% percent of households experienced food shortage almost every month in the past 12 months.
Wasting (“too thin for their height”) among children 0-5 years increased from 6.2% in 1989 to 7.9% in 2013 and stunting (“too short for their age”) remains high at 30.3% in 2013, according to the Food and Nutrition Research Institute. The period between 0 to 5 years, especially the first 1,000 days of a child’s life (the nine months in the mother’s womb and the child’s first two years), is critical in the child’s physical and cognitive development.
The problem on hunger and malnutrition is exacerbated by our vulnerability to climate change. Armed conflict also aggravates the situation of thousands of families, especially children, in Mindanao.
The country’s adoption of the new Sustainable Development Goals, which seek to end poverty, empower people, protect the environment and build partnerships for lasting peace and prosperity, should reenergize our efforts to finally achieve food security.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 5) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (Article 21) guarantee the right to adequate food of all peoples. It is our duty to fulfill this fundamental human right.
It is upon the power of the government, however, to effect long-term and sustainable solutions to hunger and malnutrition.
The Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD) thus urges the government to take all necessary steps to mitigate vulnerabilities and address threats to food security such as climate change and armed conflict, increase food production, ensure food safety and nutritious quality, and close the widening inequality that compromises people’s access to food.