June 2007 Social Weather Survey:

Hunger declines significantly to 14.7%:

Moderate is 12.5%; Severe is 2.2%

Social Weather Stations

After having been at a crisis level of 19.0% for two consecutive surveys, the national percentage of families experiencing involuntary hunger in the past three months declined significantly to 14.7% in the new Social Weather Survey, conducted over June 27-30.

This is a substantial improvement, but is still three points above the 11.6% average percentage of hunger in 37 quarterly SWS surveys from mid-1998 to the present.

Unfortunately, Hunger reached a new record-high of 22.0% in Metro Manila in particular. The fall in the national percentage was due to large drops in the Balance of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

Hunger is defined as involuntary if undergone without the option of having something to eat. The national proportion of 14.7% is equivalent to about 2.6 million households.

Moderate Hunger and Severe Hunger

Moderate Hunger, which refers to those who experienced it “Only Once” or “A Few Times” in the last three months, fell from 15.0% in February to 12.5% in June. This category also includes those who did not state their frequency of Hunger.

Severe Hunger, which refers to those who experienced it “Often” or “Always” in the last three months, fell by almost half — from 4.0% to 2.2%. Severe Hunger fell in all areas, and was only 0.7% in Mindanao, equaling a record-low first set in 1999.

Hunger down in all areas except Metro Manila

Hunger in Metro Manila went up from 20.7% in February to a new record-high of 22.0% in June, surpassing the previous record of 21.0% in December 2005.

Between February and June 2007, Hunger declined by six points in the rest of Luzon, from 18.3% to 12.0%, by five points in Mindanao, from 22.7% to 17.7%, and by three points in the Visayas, from 15.3% to 12.3% [Chart 2, also Table 2].

Moderate Hunger declined in Luzon outside Metro Manila, from 14.3% to 9.3%, in the Visayas, from 12.7% to 10.7%, and in Mindanao, from 18.0% to 17.0% [Charts 3 to 6; also Tables 3 to 6]. However, it rose in Metro Manila, from 15.7% to 17.7%.

Severe Hunger fell dramatically in Mindanao, from 4.7% to 0.7%, tying the record-low first set in October 1999. It declined in Luzon outside Metro Manila, from 4.0% to 2.7%, in the Visayas, from 2.7% to 1.7%, and in Metro Manila, from 5.0% to 4.3%.

Thus Hunger rose in Metro Manila because the two-point increase in Moderate Hunger outweighed the 0.7 point decrease in Severe Hunger.

Survey Background

The SWS survey questions about household hunger are directed to the household head. By using the phrase “nakaranas ng gutom at wala kayong makain” or “experienced hunger, and did not have anything to eat,” the hunger item specifically refers to involuntary suffering.

In April-June 2006, the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS) replicated the SWS procedure of measuring hunger with a nationwide sample of 12,857 households, and obtained Moderate Hunger of 15.0%, Severe Hunger of 3.6%, or total Hunger of 18.6%. The BAS findings, from a January 2007 report to the Secretary of Agriculture, were included in an SWS presentation to the Annual General Assembly of the Bishops-Businessmen’s Conference for Human Development on July 6, 2007.

The Social Weather Surveys referred to in this release used face-to-face interviews of a national sample of 1,200 statistically representative household heads (300 each in Metro Manila, the Balance of Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao), from 240 geographical spots selected from all regions. Error margins of ±3% for national percentages and ±6% for regional percentages should be applied. The area estimates were weighted by the National Statistics Office’s medium-projections for 2007 to obtain the national estimates. The quarterly Social Weather Surveys on household hunger are not commissioned, but are done on SWS’s own initiative and released as a public service, with first printing rights assigned to BusinessWorld, starting with the June 2007 survey round. There is no statistical source of data on Philippine hunger that matches the periodicity of the Social Weather Surveys.

The graphs and tables are found the the bottom of the page.

OK, my turn now. One thing that is not present in SWS press releases is the Margin of Error. They would put headlines like “Hunger at a [insert a number here]-year high.” Fine, let us say the data showed a 19% hunger rating but they should also let the people know that at a certain margin above and below 19% the REAL hunger rating may lie. So in a sense that 19% may just be 16% if the data gathering would have been so precise in a situation where the researchers interviewed all the Filipinos in this country. But SWS surveys are conducted using sampling methods which are prone to errors. This is why the phrase “Margin of Error” existed!

And for the general topic of the press release, It’s a bliss to learn that the hunger rating has declined significantly. This meand that the effect of the economic developments that have had happened in the country in the prior years are being felt. So activists who once tried to block E-VAT, who were once against the economic programs of the government, who many times shouted their whines in the streets, it is time for you to EAT YOUR WORDS! Please think before you do something that might hinder the developments in our country’s economy and the country, itself. Be an informed activist and not a blabbering megaphone.