homelessness in the Philippines
The Philippines is one of the fastest-growing economies in Southeast Asia, yet it is facing a homeless crisis. There are approximately 4.5 million homeless people, including children, in the Philippines, which has a population of 106 million people. Homelessness in the Philippines is caused by a variety of reasons, including lost jobs, insufficient income or lack of a stable job, domestic violence and loss of home due to a natural disaster. The government and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are working to address this issue.

Causes of Homelessness

In the Philippines, families end up homeless for many reasons, including:

  • Poverty: Although the unemployment rate in the Philippines is low (5.3% in March of 2020), 16.6% of Filipinos’ wages remained below the country’s poverty line in 2018. Low income can make it difficult for many families in the Philippines, especially those living in Manila, to pay rent.
  • Domestic violence: Women and children in the Philippines are in danger of domestic abuse, exploitation and trafficking. Approximately one in five women between the ages 15-49 in the Philippines experience domestic violence in their life. Women who escape their abusive partners could lose their source of income and have difficulty finding a place to stay. Shelters for women tend to have long waiting list.
  • Human trafficking: In the Philippines, there are approximately 100,000 people trafficked each year. Many trafficked victims are promised jobs in the cities. However, after moving to a city, they are exploited and forced into prostitution.
  • Natural disasters: In addition, some families have lost their homes due to natural disasters such as typhoons, earthquakes and volcano eruptions. In 2019, more than 20 typhoons battered the Philippines. One of the typhoons that hit the country damaged over 500,000 houses. A volcano eruption that happened in January impacted half a million people and forced the relocation of 6,000 families.

Types of Homeless Families

According to the Modified Conditional Cash Transfer for Homeless Street Families (MCCT-HSF) program, homeless families fit into four different categories:

  • Families on the street: “Families on the street” represent 75% of the homeless population. They are families who earn their livelihood on the street, but eventually return to their original communities. This category includes both “displaced homeless families” and “community-based street families”.
  • Families of the street: “Families of the street” are families who live on the street for a long time and have created communities among themselves. They perform daily activities, like cooking, bathing or playing in the public spaces they live in. They are visible by their use of a “kariton,” also known as a pushcart that contains their family’s belongings, which they move around within Manila.
  • Displaced homeless families: “Displaced homeless families” are families who have lost their homes due to natural disasters or live in their communities. They are families who leave their rural communities of the Philippines to find a job in the cities. This category also may also include families and children who may be escaping abuses at home. Displaced homeless families may also push around a kariton that contains their personal belongings.
  • Community-based street families: “Community-based street families” are families who are from rural communities, but move to urban areas for a better way of life; however, they often end up returning to the rural area they are from.

Homeless Children

Homeless children are among the most vulnerable of the homeless in the Philippines. There are approximately 250,000 homeless children; however, that number could be as high as 1 million. Children leave home and end up on the streets because of the excessive beating from their parents, poverty or sexual exploitation.

When children are on the streets, they can face problems such as sexual exploitation, abuse and prostitution. Although victims of circumstances beyond their control, children who live on the street are often viewed as criminals or future criminals resulting in discrimination from the police. Additionally, to numb their pain and their hunger, some children may turn to drugs. Both the external and internal factors that children face make it very difficult for them to escape the street life.

Addressing Homelessness in the Philippines

The government, NGOs and religious institutions are working help the homeless. Government programs include the Modified Conditional Cash Transfer for Homeless Street Families program (MCCT-HSF). This program provides financial support, such as housing grants and funding for health and education, to homeless families in Metro Manila.

To help street children, ASMAE-Philippines travels the streets of Manila to teach kids on the basics of hygiene. The organization also provides children with school support, as well as supporting other NGOs in the area. Kanlungan sa ER-MA Ministry, Inc. is another organization that works to educate street children, though projects that teach children about hard work while providing them with an income.

Although the government and NGOs have made efforts to help the homeless population, much more still needs to be done. Moving forward, these initiatives need to be increased in order to significantly reduce homelessness in the nation.

– Joshua Meribole 
Photo: Flickr

Poverty Rates of Filipinos
Crystal Tai, a journalist from South China Morning Post, reported that Filipinos were the largest immigrant minority in Alaska. They represent at least 15 percent of the population. According to the article, Filipinos have been in the state since the late 1700s, often heading to the Last Frontier for jobs. Many held positions as sailors, ore sorters and salmon cannery workers. People would eventually describe these seasonal workers and their descendants as Alaskeros. Some of the descendants came from Filipino soldiers who married Alaska Natives. Filipinos in the Philippines, Filipinos in the United States, Alaska Natives and Filipinos in Alaska or Alaskeros tend to have different economic outcomes. Poverty rates of Filipinos in different regions look different because each region brings out different challenges.

However, it is hard to tell which data belongs to which group as people continue to aggregate them or forget them altogether. People may have even overlooked Filipinos when it came to their status as Asians among other Asian countries. Some even describe Filipinos as the “orphans of the Pacific.” Researchers often overlook native people. As a result, Alaskeros and Filipino descendants in Alaska, in general, suffer from a multi-dimensional statistical invisibility cloak. The descendants of the Philippines in these respective regions deserve an honest look at how poverty has evolved or changed. Looking at each group individually might help distinguish the data.

Poverty in the Philippines

A December 2019 article of the Philippine Daily Inquirer declared that the poverty rate in the archipelago had fallen to 16.6 percent. It decreased from 23.3 percent in 2015. However, there is a difference between the poverty incidence of the Philippines and the subsistence incidence. The subsistence incidence is the proportion of Filipino families whose incomes fall below the food threshold. For the Philippines, the per capita food threshold was P1,505.6 per month in 2018. The poverty threshold was P2,145.36 per month for an individual or P10,726.79 for a family of five. ” Research group IBON stated that one could consider the Philippine Statistics Authority’s (PSA) April 2019 report on poverty misleading.

According to PSA, poor Filipinos fell to 21 percent in the first semester of 2018. This was 23.1 million poor Filipinos down from 27.6 percent or 28.8 million poor Filipinos in the first semester of 2015. IBON observed that the improvements were based on daily per capita poverty. The research group did not consider these thresholds to be decent minimum standards for basic necessities. It found the official poverty line to be too low and grossly underestimating the true number of poor Filipinos. If one were to take the average of the poverty rates of Filipinos in different regions, the variable of the country of the Philippines would bring the average down.

Filipinos in the United States

The Migration Policy Institute states that the United States is home to the largest number of Filipinos abroad with 1.9 million residing in the country in 2017. The rate of poverty for Filipinos in the United States was 8.8 percent in 2015. The median household income for Filipinos living in the U.S. in 2015 was $80,000.

Identifying Minorities on a Census

According to a Census.gov fact sheet on American Indians and Alaska Natives, 19.9 percent of Alaska’s population identified as a member of one of the two groups, alone or a combination, in 2016. That was the highest share for this race group of any state.

In 2014, the Pew Research Center listed the poverty incidence for Alaska Natives and American Indians as the highest in the United States with 26 percent of this group living in poverty. Another 2014 Pew Research Center article found that millions of Americans who had selected one race or ethnicity in the 2000 census had changed it in the 2010 census. Hispanics, mixed-race individuals, American Indians and Pacific Islanders were the ones most likely to do so. The article noted that a variety of factors could influence why people decide to change their race or ethnicity on a census form. They might discover an ancestor of another racial or ethnic group or they might discover that there are benefits to ticking a certain box.

A 2014 meta-analysis of how researchers studied multiracial populations over 20 years, even noted that “not reporting data from multiracial participants, or combining data from all mixed subgroups together into a single “multiracial” category) have led to conflicting representations in the literature.” The difficulty in coming by accurate research on Native populations is determined both by researchers’ oversimplifications and by participants’ complex and changing views on race, their own or otherwise. According to a 2018 report on the economic well-being of Alaska children, the number of Alaska children living in poverty is worsening to a rate of more than a third of them living in poverty.

Poverty in Alaska

There are many Alaskans who are Filipino descents. Nez Danguilan, a local Filipino community leader, noted that most Alaskans do not even realize that they are of partial Filipino descent. People start to realize when they communicate with more recent arrivals from the Philippines. Filipinos appear to have low rates of poverty in the United States and both Filipinos and Alaska Natives share a history of colonialism. This particular Asian group appears to be one of the more successful Asian populations. However, the poverty rate of Filipino descendants who live in Alaska specifically remains unclear.

It is difficult to tell which policies Alaskeros would be interested in. The poverty rates of Filipinos in different regions are diverse. Thus the policies could end up being very diverse as well. A good place to start however would be with disaggregating data on AAPIs. The census conflates Asians and Pacific Islanders. In addition, the Census conflates Alaskan Natives and Native Americans.

Hence, an Alaskero has the added issue of the truths of their communities getting scattered among three or four different statistical identifiers. In December 2019, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo vetoed a bill that would require state agencies to disaggregate and collect data on Asian American and Pacific Islanders of different ethnic backgrounds. As a result, this issue continues to be important and the 2020 census needs to take the differences of these groups into account. The different poverty rates of Filipinos in different regions demonstrate that.

Julia Stephens
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Sanitation in the Philippines
Sanitation in the Philippines is a major issue with more than 24 million people living without improved sanitation. With one-third of the population living in poverty, access to clean water and sanitation is essential to improving conditions. Here are 10 facts about sanitation in the Philippines.

10 Facts About Sanitation in the Philippines

  1. Access to Clean Water and Sanitation: The Philippines has a higher percentage of areas and people without access to clean water and sanitation systems than the national average of 7 percent.
  2. Septic Systems and Piped Sewer Systems: Many people do not have septic systems in the Philippines. Further, only 10 percent of the country has access to a piped sewer system and 8 percent have no access to sanitation facilities at all. For those who can dispose of their waste, they use plastic bags for garbage trucks to collect. This can often lead to animals breaking in, furthering contamination.
  3. Diseases: According to the country’s National Sewerage and Septage Management Program (NSSMP), around 55 people die every day from diseases related to inconsistent treatment of sewage. The contamination, as a result, leads to outbreaks of bacterial diseases such as meningitis and diarrhea.
  4. Impact of a Growing Population: The growing population will place a further strain on the limited clean water resources of the Philippines. Despite the vast improvements that the Philippines has made, an estimated additional 2 million people required access to clean water each year as of 2008.
  5. Contamination: Water is in further demand due to a contaminated water supply that unimproved sanitation in the Philippines caused. Most of the waste goes directly into bodies of water. As of 2011, 58 percent of groundwater suffered contamination. Further, over 60 percent of the country’s rivers exceeded the limits for potability.
  6. The NSSMP: The National Sewerage and Septage Management Program (NSSMP) is making strides towards completing the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals for 2030. By increasing reliable sanitation infrastructure in the Philippines, the country seeks to eliminate public defecation, especially for women and girls.
  7. Importance of Sanitation: Improving sanitation also improves the global water situation. Water is a finite resource. With the continuous transformation into gray water and the return to the ocean, potable water becomes further limited. As society improves at effectively utilizing water, this leads to preservation for future generations.
  8. Sanitation in Urban Areas: Sanitation in the Philippines is best in urban areas where people have recently added sewerage and water piping systems. For instance, the eastern area of metro Manila benefited from updates in 2012 that focused on improving treatment facilities and installing water connections. These improvements reduced the spread of waterborne diseases in the area and gave over 3 million people regular access to clean water.
  9. Improving Clean Water Access: Access to clean water has greatly improved as sanitation has. The organization Water.org has been providing small loans to people to receive water connections; this will reduce the amount of time people spend looking for water. Since 2015, Water.org has distributed over 810,000 loans, bringing clean water to more than 3 million people.
  10. Educational Programs: Educational programs to inform the public about water management and sustainability have become increasingly popular. For instance, the Manila Water Enterprise offers tours for stakeholders and the public that show the steps of the water lifecycle in the sanitation world.

These 10 facts about sanitation in the Philippines show that the Philippines and sanitation have had a fraught relationship. However, with increased efforts from both the national government and nonprofit organizations, more people gain access to water and sanitation systems every year. As aid increases, there is no doubt that the effectiveness of sanitation in the Philippines will improve as well.

Anna Sarah Langlois
Photo: Flickr

IsraAID Responds to Global Crises
Based in Tel Aviv, Israel, the nonprofit organization IsraAID responds to global crises, such as natural disasters and poverty, and sends teams of volunteers to help those in need. After its founding in 2001, IsraAID responded to crises in over 50 different countries. Its expertise in crisis relief includes emergency aid distributions, pinpoint trauma support and prevention training for local government and non-government professionals. These are some of the global crises IsraAID has responded to:

Typhoon Ketsana in the Philippines

IsraAID sent its first mission to the Philippines after Typhoon Ketsana in 2009. Working in collaboration with local partner Operation Blessing International, IsraAID dispatched a team of nurses and doctors to assist in the emergency medical operations. In 2013, another typhoon devastated the Philippines, killing over 6,000 people, injuring more than 28,000 and affecting over 16 million people overall. IsraAID responded within 48 hours with its medical team on the ground less than four days after the event. It spent the first three days of its efforts assisting the local health workers in one of the many hospitals the typhoon had destroyed. After that, IsraAID spent the next two years operating with the local government, instigating programs in medical support, psychotherapy and the rebuilding of the fallen cities.

Earthquake in Nepal

After a major earthquake left Nepal in ruins back in 2015, IsraAID sent a team to help the local police force locate survivors and provide emergency medical treatment. This was a relief to the local authorities and medical personnel outnumbered by the number of injuries and the chaos that ensued. Working alongside the authorities and an emergency response from the Israeli Defense Forces, IsraAID volunteers risked their lives to save and treat the survivors who the rubble had trapped. IsraAID not only provided the immediate essentials of food, water, shelter and medical aid to the Nepalese but also focused its efforts on long-term recovery via farming, fishing and a new supply of clean water. It also provided psychosocial services to the victims, helping them cope with and build resilience in the wake of the tragedy.

The Dadaab Refugee Camp and Famine in Kenya

Since 2007, IsraAID has been sending emergency relief teams to the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya—the largest refugee camp in the world—to aid the victims running from violence and famine. Later in 2011, when a drought caused one of the worst famines to ever strike the Horn of Africa, IsraAID returned to Kenya with a distribution of food and relief items for the refugees and locals still suffering from hunger and chaos. It also offered that same assistance to the people of Turkana, Kenya’s poorest county. IsraAID has maintained a steady presence in Kenya since 2013, helping those in poverty and the refugee camp with medical treatment, water management and psychosocial support.

Refugee Crisis in Greece

During the refugee crisis in 2015, IsraAID responded by sending a team of volunteers to Greece. Special mobile units provided immediate medical and psychosocial aid, distributed supplies and identified particularly vulnerable groups, such as children. IsraAID volunteers also rescued refugees whose boats had capsized and provided sleeping bags to anyone who had to sleep on the ground. Throughout the crisis, the volunteers provided food, clothing, medicine and hygiene kits to the refugees, as well as psychotherapy training to the local government and non-government professionals so that it could better care for the traumatized population.

Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico

After Hurricane Maria devastated the Puerto Rican population in 2017, IsraAID responded with a Spanish-fluent team of psychosocial and medical support, as well as experts in water and sanitation. At the time, the country’s poverty rate was 43.5 percent and the unemployment rate at 10.3 percent, on top of 95 percent of the populace losing electricity as a result of the storm. IsraAID provided emergency relief programs in the distribution of food, water and basic supplies, medical treatment and mental support. The team then shifted focus to long-term recovery and implemented a system to provide water and sanitation to the people of Puerto Rico.

The aforementioned countries and many others have benefitted greatly from IsraAID’s support, and IsraAID responds to global crises to this day. The organization has even established ongoing training programs for water management, psychosocial services and other relief efforts in the countries listed above, as well as in Japan, South Korea, Haiti, Jordan and South Sudan. As IsraAID responds to global crises, those in need have a chance to lead better lives.

– Yael Litenatsky
Photo: Flickr

Farming Systems in the Philippines

Lack of technological prowess has historically been one of the key issues affecting farming systems in the Philippines. But there are other issues as well:

  • The input of harvests has not been matching up to the output of harvests which is leading to a loss in profits. This problem is due mainly to farm pests that are consuming or contaminating harvests, along with diseases ravaging the plantations. The disease problem, in particular, is further exacerbated by the fact that the main agricultural product that the Philippines produces is rice.
  • Due to a lack of crop diversity, large swaths of rice plantations often suffer from the same disease. Without the proper pesticides and fertilizer, there is not much that can be done for the Philippines to combat the problem. The national government has tried to solve this problem by importing other pesticides and fertilizers from other countries, but this is much more expensive than it would be for the country to make its own.
  • Many farmers lack the necessary education, training and skills to maintain thriving businesses. Inadequate infrastructure is an offshoot of this issue and many farmers do not have access to coveted irrigation systems or milling towers which are essential for creating a sustainable agricultural system in modern society.

Business Modernization

Thankfully, organizations and programs have been created or put in place to solve these specific issues. For instance, the Department of Science and Technology – Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (DOST-PCIEERD) has put forward long term plans to educate farmers properly on their vocation. Preserving certain types of endangered plants is also a key agenda item.

DOST-PCIEERD is focused on three core areas: cryopreservation, micropropagation and hydroponics. Of note, the agency’s SPICE program also seeks to improve access to farming tools that would allow farmers to work at a less intensive rate while at the same time boosting profits. This is crucial since most farmers in the Philippines cannot afford their own improved equipment, to assist in farming.

These improvements are much needed, especially since the country experienced a 5.7 percent drop in crop production in the second quarter of 2019 alone. This is significant because out of all of the agricultural products that the Philippines has, the crop production field has seen the sharpest decline, while other areas of agriculture such as livestock and fisheries crops have grown.

Online Learning and Management

The SPICE program won’t have to shoulder the responsibility of reviving the agriculture industry alone, however. The Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) is especially focused on the training of farmers and allowing farmers to gain the knowledge to train their peers. ATI even goes so far as to include an e-learning system to give farmers a crash course on the new techniques and technology that they will be used to improve their farming businesses.

The initiative also utilizes an app that can be accessed via a computer or phone to better connect farmers and their potential customers. There is also an app that allows farmers to better manage their rice farms with crop and nutrient management guidelines. This is crucial since rice accounts for 20 percent of agricultural output in the country.

Though farming systems in the Philippines are in need of improvement the government is taking the necessary steps to equip  farmers with the tools and knowledge to remain competitive. This is necessary since more than 40 percent of the economy in the Philippines depends on the agricultural sector.

– Collin Williams
Photo: Flickr

12 Shocking Facts About Hunger in the Philippines
The Philippines is an archipelagic country of more than 7,000 islands located in Southeast Asia in the Pacific Ocean. Hunger is a very serious problem in the Philippines, affecting a large percentage of the population and causing many serious health concerns. Here are 12 shocking facts about hunger in the Philippines.

12 Shocking Facts About Hunger in the Philippines

  1. More than 33 percent of Filipino children suffer from malnutrition due to hunger problems in the Philippines. The problems with hunger and resulting malnutrition have long-term negative effects on children’s health.
  2. Out of the countries that make up the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Philippines has one of the highest hunger severities. The only country facing a worse hunger situation in the ASEAN is Indonesia.
  3. The most recent Global Hunger Index (GHI) calculated that the Philippines ranks 69 out of 113 countries with a GHI of 20.2. Factors such as undernourishment and health statistics such as weight and mortality rates, and particularly with children, determine the GHI for a country. The higher the GHI value, the more serious the hunger situation is. A GHI value of zero indicates no undernourishment in the population. The Philippines’ high ranking displays the country’s serious struggles with hunger.
  4. With a GHI of 20.2, the Philippines has one of the most serious scores on the GHI scale. However, this score does not place the country into an alarming category. This shows that while the situation is serious, it is not unsalvageable.
  5. There are approximately 520 million malnourished people in the world. The Philippines has amongst the highest number of citizens suffering from malnourishment. The Asian region, in general, has an extremely high malnourishment rate, which includes the islands of the Philippines.
  6. During recent years, effective results against malnourishment in the Philippines have gone down. The high rate and stagnant poverty make it difficult to find positive outcomes for this problem.
  7. High rates of hunger and malnourishment in the Philippines are primarily due to high food costs and a large low-income population. Additionally, the government lacks focus on addressing the problems associated with hunger, such as regional agricultural laws. The Philippines has passed some bills to reduce the hunger problem including the Philippine Food Fortification Act of 2000. This law mandates “fortifying with essential micronutrients staple food items like rice, flour, oil, and sugar.”
  8. The current strategy for addressing malnutrition in the Philippines is the Philippine Plan of Action for Nutrition (PPAN). This initiative has promoted many recent laws and bills. These laws address solving the malnutrition problem in the Philippines on specific levels or issues such as aid and security to small businesses, farmers and fishermen.
  9. The Duterte administration that currently runs the Philippines garnered an increase in foreign investments of 43.5 percent in 2018. While this brings in more money for the Philippines, a significant proportion goes toward building skyscrapers and big business centers, rather than providing methods to increase the sustainable food supply for the poor. A shift toward fixing hunger needs to become the primary focus in order to begin solving the hunger and health problems of the population.
  10. The organization Rise Against Hunger has been fighting hunger in the Philippines since 2011. Rise Against Hunger coordinates the distribution of food and aid to the most susceptible regions around the world. Rise Against Hunger hopes to end hunger in the Philippines and other countries by 2030.
  11. Feed the Children is another organization that strives to improve the lives of Filipino citizens since 1984. Feed the Children hopes to meet the immediate and long-term needs of children and their families. One of its main focuses is providing individuals with food, nutrition and clean water. It has been able to reach approximately 38 communities.
  12. Action Against Hunger has also worked in the Philippines since 2000 with a focus on humanitarian needs. It specifically looks at needs stemming from physical and emotional issues resulting from natural disasters and their consequences on family and living. In 2018, it was able to help 302,014 people with their programs of nutrition and health, food security and water sanitation.

This concludes the 12 shocking facts about hunger in the Philippines. The country has made small improvements, but there is still a long way to go. Many organizations are doing impactful work to bring real change to the Philippines. However, there are other ways to help, such as contacting congressional leaders or making a donation to one of the organizations mentioned.

Haley Saffren
Photo: Flickr

Education in the Philippines

The Philippines is a growing nation with a population of over 108 million people. The island nation is struggling to teach its young students. There are shortages and dropout rates that are the norm throughout the country and are harming the countries wellbeing. Here are some statistics about education in the Philippines.

By the numbers

The Philippines has 45,973 public schools throughout the country, of which, 38,503 are elementary schools, and 7,470 are high schools. There are a total of 27.7 million students in the Philippines with 22.9 million going to public schools and 4.8 million going to private schools. Funding for education in the Philippines as of 2018 is 672.41 billion Philippine pesos or 12.8 billion USD. This funding is among the lowest budgeted among the Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN) countries.

Dropouts

The Philippines currently has the highest dropout rates among all of the ASEAN countries, with a dropout rate of 6.38 percent in elementary students and 7.82 percent of secondary school students. There are a number of reasons for the high dropout rate, but the top three reasons seem to be:

  1. Hunger, students will skip class to find something to eat when there is no food at home or at school.
  2. Work, to help provide for their families students will stay at home and work on family farms or businesses.
  3. Conflict, this problem is primarily in the southern regions of the country in Mindanao where there have been insurgents disrupting life for the past 50 years.

Today, there are currently 1.4 million students who are out-of-school in the Philippines.

Shortages

There is a significant lack of supplies and teachers throughout the country. The number of students in the classrooms is a ratio of one teacher for every 31 students at the elementary level with one teacher for every 36 students at the secondary level. These numbers are down from a year ago where the ratio was one teacher for every 45 students. This has a negative impact on the students in the classroom who do not receive the attention needed to learn. There is also a shortage of supplies in the classroom. Along with the increased number of students comes the lack of chairs, textbooks and even drinking water for the students, particularly in the cities. Classrooms will sometimes have two or even three students sharing a single textbook. According to the Philippines Department of Education, the country needs 60 million textbooks, 2.5 million chairs and over 80,000 sanitation facilities for the schools throughout the country.

The Good News

The future of education in the Philippines does have a positive outlook. The Philippines currently enjoys a literacy rate of 97.5 percent, an increase from 92.3 percent in 2000. There is a program called the 1,000 Teachers Program aimed at giving scholarships to high performing, but underprivileged high school students. The program is aimed at relieving some of the pressure that the school system is facing to gain more teachers for the classrooms.

With many problems with education in the Philippines, there are significant hurdles to meet if the country wants to improve its system. More teachers, supplies and money are needed to help the students who desperately want to learn and improve their lives.

– Sam Bostwick
Photo: Wikimedia

The Green Revolution
Up until the early 20th century, agricultural practices in developing nations changed very little over thousands of years. Growing populations meant that these countries needed to figure out a way to feed their people. New techniques were necessary to ensure that there was an increase in crop production in places that struggled to produce proper amounts of food. These innovations were able to come to fruition by implementing what people now know as the Green Revolution.

The Green Revolution is a set of changes that occurred in developing nations that saw an increase in crop production. These changes included introducing new irrigation techniques that people could use to cultivate the land, planting genetically modified seeds that raise crops and applying chemical pesticides and fertilizers. These techniques allowed nations to produce more crops than they ever had in the past.

One of the most significant contributors to the success of the Green Revolution was an American scientist named Norman Borlaug. In 1954, Borlaug, with funding from the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations, developed a genetically modified high yielding variety (HYV) of wheat seeds. These seeds went to the Philippines, India and Mexico, where they were able to increase their harvest from previous years significantly. This type of seed development would lead to other HYV of seeds, including bean, rice and corn that could grow in other parts of the world. Borlaug is responsible for saving over a billion people from starvation in developing nations.

The Green Revolution and Mexico

Initially, the Green Revolution began in the 1940s in Mexico. The Mexican government received a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation to eventually discover ways to use dry land for massive crop production. Along with irrigation changes, the Mexican government created the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center that helped with research to discover stronger HYV of crops that can survive the arid land of northwest Mexico and produce more products. Wheat became one of the most successful crops in Mexico, and by 1960 it was able to change from importing wheat to exporting it. Mexico is now a major wheat exporter, and as of August 2019, it has exported 1 million metric tons of wheat thanks to the success of the green revolution.

The Green Revolution and India

In 1950, after the notorious famine India suffered from the decade before, the country was still struggling to feed its growing population of over 375 million. India had a problem with the number of crops it was producing; it simply was not enough. Because of the success of the HYV of crops in Mexico, the Indian government, along with funding from the Ford Foundation, was able to bring those crops to the northern Indian region of Punjab. The region of Punjab received those seeds because of its past agricultural success and access to water. The introduction of the new HYV seeds helped to avoid widespread famine and significantly increased wheat production in India. In 1960 India produced 10 million tons of wheat; by 2006 it was producing 69 million tons. Today, India’s population is at 1.3 billion and growing, so it needs to continue its success. With 44 percent of India’s current working population in the agriculture industry, there are calls by some for a second Green Revolution in order to feed the constantly rising population. In 2019, India has already set a new all-time high for wheat production at over 100 million tons, but exports are lower than previous years.

The Green Revolution and the Philippines

The Government of the Philippines created the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in 1960 with funding from the Rockefeller Foundation and Ford Foundation. The institute emerged to discover new strains of rice that would be able to feed the growing population of Asia. In 1966 the IRRI produced a new form of rice called IR8, or miracle rice, that was a cross between two types of rice, Peta and Dee-Geo-woo-gen. In the 20 years following the discovery of IR8, the Philippines’ annual production of rice went from 3.7 million tons to 7.7 million. IR8 was an HYV crop so successful it saw the Philippines become a rice exporter for the first time in the 20th century. Recently it was able to export 35 tons of rice after seeing the success of its crops. The country is now the eighth largest producer of rice in the world, having produced 2.7 percent of the world’s rice.

None of the successes of the Green Revolution would have been possible if it were not for the grants from charitable organizations as well as the dedication from leaders like Norman Borlaug. Through innovation and scientific research, the world saw discoveries that helped billions in developing countries. Mexico, India and the Philippines were able to overcome obstacles such as their environment and population growth to help feed the world.

Samuel Bostwick
Photo: Flickr

dengue fever in the Philippines

The Philippines Department of Health declared a national dengue fever epidemic. The southeast Asian nation is experiencing one of the worst outbreaks of the disease in years with over 160,000 cases this year. This is an increase of 97 percent from this time last year. The surge in cases has caused over 600 deaths, already doubling the amount from 2018.

What is Dengue Fever?

Dengue fever is spread by the Aedes mosquito that lives primarily in tropical and subtropical regions. Once bitten, it takes four to seven days before flu-like symptoms set in. These symptoms include headaches, joint and muscle pain, rash and fever. If left untreated, some severe cases can lead to dengue hemorrhagic fever or dengue shock syndrome, which can lead to death. The median age of those infected in the Philippines is 12 years old. Most of the deaths in the Philippines are children between the ages of 5 and 9.

There is no known cure for dengue fever, once infected a person can only manage the symptoms until they dissipate. This is done by keeping a patient well hydrated with IV fluids and the use of pain medications with acetaminophen. Dengvaxia, a vaccine for dengue was discovered in 2016 but it is currently not licensed in the Philippines.

Philippines Hospitals Overwhelmed

With 1800 hospitals taking care of a population of over 108 million people, the Philippines struggles to deal with the rising cases of dengue fever. Of those hospitals in the Philippines, there are only 19 in the five regions that have been hit hardest by the epidemic. Southern Tagalog, Bicol Region, Western Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula and Northern Mindanao are past the epidemic threshold. West Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula and Bicol Region are also three of the poorest regions in the Philippines and struggle with the cost of care for its citizens.

Over the past 50 years, dengue fever cases rose, according to the World Health Organization(WHO). In the past five years, there have been over 200,000 cases of dengue fever in the Philippines. This includes just over 1000 deaths in that same time period. The country may exceed these numbers by the end of 2019 alone.

Global Forces Rally Against Epidemic

The European Union donated 100,000 euros in humanitarian aid to help treat those already infected and to help with prevention. These funds will help the Philippines Red Cross to provide emergency medical units, nurses and wards at hospitals specific to treating dengue fever in the Philippines. It is expected that this funding will benefit 300,000 people that are living in some of the poorer and infected areas.

The WHO and the government of the Philippines are currently taking the steps needed to prevent the increase in fatal cases. The government also tries to educate its citizens on what they need to do to prevent the Aedes mosquito from continuing to breed and how they can protect themselves. This includes cleanup efforts that help reduce the stagnant water areas where the mosquitoes breed. The WHO advised the people to wear insect repellant and long sleeve pants and shirts at all times. The organization also recommends fitting every bed and crib with mosquito nets to provide protection while sleeping.

Despite the ever-growing danger imposed, the fight continues around the world to protect and prevent dengue fever in the Philippines. Simple measures can be put into place at home and around communities that can minimize those who are infected and provide a safe and healthy environment.

– Sam Bostwick
Photo: Flickr

Philippines' Poverty Reduction

In 2015, the poverty rate in the Philippines was at 21.6 percent, which is a five percent decline from 2006. Although poverty rates have been declining, 22 million Filipinos still live in poverty as of 2015. That makes up about one fifth of the country’s population. Here are five facts about the Philippines’ poverty reduction efforts.

Five Facts about the Philippines’ Poverty Reduction

  1. Factors benefitting declining poverty rates –Among many things, robust economic growth as well as the development and improvement of social programs have greatly benefitted the government’s efforts to eradicate poverty in the Philippines. The country has improved poverty rates by creating more jobs outside of the agricultural sector, changing coverage in health insurance programs and raising the level of compulsory education. Additionally, people are experiencing better living conditions through improved access to potable water, sanitation and electricity. These efforts have been part of the change in the last decades that have aided in the decline of the poverty rate.
  2. Factors hindering declining poverty rates  – one of the main causes for poverty is the high wealth inequality rates in the Philippines. One report showed that “the richest 1 percent of Filipinos own more than 50 percent of the country’s wealth.” Wealth being concentrated among the top 1 percent of the population limits equal opportunities. This keeps the poor in poverty. As a way for the country to move forward and reduce poverty, the government has started focusing on investment and development of the regions where poverty is more prevalent. By doing so, it hopes to mitigate the negative effects of inequality and reduce the inequality rate.
  3. Birth control for the poor – besides the programs working towards changing people’s living conditions, the government has passed a law that provides birth control to 6 million women who cannot currently afford it. This will allow families to better plan how many children they have and to be better prepared to provide for their children. This has been part of the larger plan to reduce the population growth rate from 1.7 percent to 1.4 percent. Currently, the population is 104 million and continuing to rise.
  4. Key programs to help reduce poverty – the government has made great progress in reducing poverty. It intends to continue by implementing programs such as AmBisyon 2040 by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA). NEDA aims to improve living conditions for those living in extreme poverty through job creation, improved health and nutrition and an increase in productivity. There is also a government program known as the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, which has already helped reduce poverty 5 percent.
  5. The government’s goals for poverty eradication – by 2022, the government hopes to reduce poverty to 13-15 percent. The Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022 has set the goals for the country’s poverty reduction efforts. As part of these programs, the country wants to increase investment in areas where poverty is more prevalent, such as in Mindanao, in order to boost development and create more job opportunities for the population.

The government is hopeful that its goals will be achieved by 2020, given all the programs and efforts it is putting into eradicating poverty. These five facts about the Philippines’ poverty reduction efforts highlight the progress that has been made in the past decades. They also show areas that still need to improve in order to fully eradicate poverty in the country.

Laura Rogers
Photo: Flickr