Policy Brief No. 3 2010 More children are income poor In 2006, the latest official poverty statistics show that one-third (32.9%) of the entire Philippine population is considered poor. This is equivalent to roughly 27.6 million people. Of this number of poor, 47 percent or 12.8 million consist of children below 15 years of age. Worse, the number of income-poor children has risen by a million during the period 2003–2006 and has in fact slightly approximated its magnitude of two-and-a-half decades ago. Aside from the rising income poverty, it is a disturbing situation when about half (44%) of all the children are living in poverty. The lack of income can have more adverse impacts on them because unlike adults, children are still in certain developmental stages where proper nourishment is necessary and are most vulnerable to diseases. Moreover, families with inadequate income may be discouraged to send their children to school. School participation rates, which are already declining, may slide Children suffer from multiple dimensions of poverty Aside from the rising income poverty, it is a disturbing situation when about half (44%) of all Filipino children are living in poverty. The lack of income can have more adverse impacts on them because unlike adults, children are still in certain developmental stages where proper nourishment is necessary and are most vulnerable to diseases. Moreover, families with inadequate income may be discouraged to send their children to school. down further because schoolgoers (aged 7–14 years old) comprise the majority, at 58 percent, of children without adequate income. Figure 1. Children in poverty by region, 2006 Source: Authors’ estimates; Figure 2 of PIDS Policy Notes No. 2009-06. Poverty rate varies widely across regions Income poverty rates greatly differ across the regions in the country. The national estimate, already dismal as it is, does not truly reflect what is happening in the regions. Figure 1 which presents a color-coded map of the Philippines (wherein dark green/ light green indicates “better off” while red/light red means “worse off”) illustrates the wide disparities in the magnitude of the poor across the various regions in the country. For instance, the number of poor children in Bicol is about six-folds the number in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR). It also shows that the incomepoor people are concentrated in the Visayas, Bicol, and CALABARZON regions. Poverty is more concentrated in the rural areas. In fact, of the 12.8 million estimated poor children in 2006, 9.2 million are in the rural areas. In terms of poverty rates, one can also see from the map that the poverty rate The Filipino child in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM)—69.3 percent—is more than four times that of Metro Manila (15.8). Malnutrition prevalence worsened In recent years, the prevalence of malnutrition among Filipino children aged 0–5 years old has gone up. The 2008 National Nutrition Survey showed that a greater proportion of children aged 0–5 years old were considered to be underweight in 2008 compared to the rate in 2005. This increase (1.6%), in fact, marked the largest rise in the prevalence of underweight. The percentages of under-height and thin children likewise went up. The case of children aged 6–10 years old is no better. More children are not in school There is also a rise in the number of children not attending school. Estimates made from the Annual Poverty Indicators Survey (APIS) reveal that the number of children aged 6–16 years old not currently attending school went up from 1.8 million in 2002 to 2.2 million in 2007. Among the most commonly cited reasons for not attending school are lack of personal interest and high cost of education. More children as informal settlers Children in informal settlements are also growing quite rapidly. The number doubled between 1985 and 2006. Of the 1.2 million children living as informal settlers in 2006, 382,000 come from the National Capital Region (NCR). In fact, 1 out of 10 children in NCR is an informal settler. More children suffer from multiple deprivations There are now more children suffering from multiple types of deprivation than before. In 2006, about 17,000 children suffered from simultaneous deprivation in terms of shelter, sanitation, and water. This figure is equivalent to 0.06 percent of all children in the country. This proportion of children living in this dire state is higher in 2006 than in 2003 (0.04%). Children facing at least two types of deprivation have likewise not been reduced in recent times. Policy Brief No. 3 2 The Child Development Index declined In June 2009, the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) released the 2006 Child Development Index which showed that the human development of Filipino children has been deteriorating, especially in the period between 2003 and 2006 when the country’s poverty rate rose. The index is a composite of health, education, and quality of life indicators whose measure ranges from 0 to 1. The higher the index is, the better is the performance. For the Philippines, the index went down from 0.779 in 2003 to 0.729 in 2006, clearly calling for urgent measures to improve the lives of Filipino children. Progress has been made in several areas Despite the worsening poverty situation of children in the Philippines, however, several key improvements have been marked. These include the improvements in child survival indicators. For instance, infant and under-five mortality rates were both declining quite significantly. The proportion of children deprived of electricity has rapidly gone down through the years. Also, those without access to radio, television, telephone, and computer have also decreased. Access to both water and sanitary facilities has also improved. Policy recommendations Notwithstanding such improvements, there is a need to come up with a roadmap for poverty reduction, in particular for the alleviation of the children’s situation. To be able to do Philippine Institute for Development Studies NEDA sa Makati Building 106 Amorsolo Street, Legaspi Village 1229 Makati City Tel. Nos.: (63-2) 8942584/8935705 Fax Nos.: (63-2) 8939589/8942584 Email: [email protected] Website: http://www.pids.gov.ph this, the following should be considered: Regional disparities in poverty incidence, which exhibit differing needs and requirements, call for more focused interventions to address such disparities and differences in needs. For instance, Bicol and the Visayas regions have the greatest shares of incomepoor children. NCR, on the other hand, while it has the lowest percentage of income poor, its main poverty issues nonetheless have to focus on shelter and informal settlements. ARMM’s problems however encompass many areas—income poverty, sanitation, malnutrition, and water, among others. z Aside from the need to formulate different strategies and programs for the different regions, targeted interventions are important given the limited resources of the government. ARMM, for instance, should be a top priority on the poverty reduction agenda because of its problems in almost all areas tackled in this study. Children suffering from multiple types of deprivation should also be prioritized. Metro Manila, SOCCKSARGEN, and Central Luzon have the largest shares of children in this dismal condition. z Finally, given the recent calamities and crises that struck the country, a well-designed, well-targeted, and sustainable social protection system, not just ad hoc temporary assistance, must be put in place in order to mitigate the impact of both crises and calamities on the poor, especially on children. These could prevent further deterioration in nutrition and education outcomes. z The Filipino Child Policy Brief is culled from studies under the joint UNICEF-PIDS project titled “Global study on child poverty and disparities: Philippines.” It highlights specific issues on child poverty in the Philippines and draws out their implications for policy. The authors are Celia M. Reyes and Aubrey D. Tabuga, Senior Research Fellow and Supervising Research Specialist, respectively, at the Institute. Unless otherwise specified, estimates are based on the authors’ calculations. Sources of basic data are the Family Income and Expenditure Survey (FIES) and Annual Poverty Indicator Survey of the National Statistics Office (NSO); and National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) for the poverty thresholds. The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of UNICEF policy or programmes and PIDS.
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