14.4 million Filipino children live in poverty – NSCB

Published by rudy Date posted on June 26, 2009

About 14.4 million, or 40.8 percent of Filipino children in 2006, live in poverty, a government report shows.

The poverty incidence among children were up from 13.47 million or 38.8 percent of the total in 2003, officials of the National Statistical Coordination Board said during a forum at the Dusit Thani Hotel in Makati City yesterday.

NSCB secretary-general Romulo Virola said high inflation, rapid population growth rate and other factors could be behind the alarming situation.

“The increase in family income is not as fast as the increase in consumer prices,” said Virola, adding that recent economic growth had apparently benefited the higher-income groups more than the poor.

Prof. Wilfredo Nuqui of the Nationa Defense College of the Philippines confirmed that larger families were more vulnerable to poverty. He cited 2003 data showing that poor families on the average had 5.87 members while non-poor families had only 4.37 members.

Nuqui said while the 2004-2006 period saw an annual gross domestic product of 5.6 percent, the period also had an average annual inflation rate of 6.4 percent.

Nuqui said other factors leading to an increase in poverty incidence could be limited government investments in infrastracture, armed conflict in Mindanao, high oil prices and deregulation and insufficient proverty reduction programs.

“The Philippine economy is not efficient in drawing economic growth for poverty reduction,” Nuqui said.

As poverty became more pronounced, the quality of life of children, as measured by the child development index, also worsened.

“Human development of the country’s children has been deteriorating and more so between 2003 and 2006,” the NSCB report said. Child development index factors in health, education and quality of life.

Data showed that child development index in the Philippines fell from 0.782 in 2000 to 0.779 in 2003 and further down to 0.729 in 2006.

This was mainly dragged down by a significant decrease in index points of child education index from 0.790 in 2000 to 0.739 in 2003 to 0.607 in 2006. Child health and quality of life indeces were stable during the period.

“We want every child to be cared for and protected,” said Cherry Marcelo, a child well-being specialist at the World Vision. “The nation’s standing depends on how well it attends to the welfare of childen,” she added.

National Anti-Poverty Commission lead convenor Domingo Panganiban cited the need to include basic sectors, including children, in economic and social development. “The participation of the basic sectors in the development process remains limited, primarily because of a lack of adequate support, advocacy efforts and coordination at both the national and community levels,” he said. –Roderick T. dela Cruz, Manila Standard Today

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