10 Facts About Slums in Manila
Since as early as the mid-1900s, impoverished citizens of Manila, Philippines have resided in informal settlements known as slums. The metro Manila area has several of these slums which houses much of the poor population of the city. Below are 10 facts about slums in Manila.

10 Facts about slums in Manila

  1. An estimated 35 percent of the metro Manila population live in unstable, poorly constructed shelters in slums. Eleven percent of slum residents live near unsafe areas like railroads and garbage dumps. According to the World Bank, living conditions in slums are worse than in the poorest rural areas. The Mega-Cities Project’s research found that tuberculosis rates were nine times higher than in non-slum areas and that rates of diarrheal disease were two times higher.

  2. It is extremely difficult to collect adequate demographic data on slum populations, as most constituents lack a proper address. Even if surveyors reach slum occupants, most are timid to answer questions due to the fear that surveyors will use the information to demolish their shelters or resettle them. Most slum residents have very little or no tenant security. However, in 2000 the Asian Development Bank estimated a total slum population of around 3.4 million in Manila.

  3. The rate of childhood malnutrition is three times higher in the slums than in non-slum areas. According to USAID, children sometimes have to sort through garbage for scraps of food. A study of the Smoky Mountain slum found that 80 percent of children aged eight months to 15 years who scavenged for food had at least two species of intestinal parasites. An Asian Development Bank study found that 50 percent of children were anemic. This is despite the fact that many of these children have access to medical facilities.

  4. Residents in Manila slums lack access to proper sanitation and a clean environment. USAID states that 66 percent of slum residents lack an adequate way to dispose of human waste and often resort to open pits or rivers. A UNICEF study found that only 16 percent of children in the slums have access to clean drinking water. As a result, residents often turn to vendors or contaminated groundwater. The child mortality rate in slums is three times higher than in non-slum areas according to the Philippines Health Department.

  5. Project PEARLS is providing children in Manila slums with food and health care. The organization has three different food programs for the children of Manila slums. PEARLS launched The Soup Kitchen program in July 2015, which feeds at least 300  children per day on a budget of $160. The organization also provides free medicine to children for illnesses like dehydration, flu, pneumonia and infections, as well as various wounds.

  6. Slum settlements in Manila are extremely vulnerable to natural disasters. The Philippines ranks fourth in the global climate risk index and is often prone to typhoons, flooding, earthquakes and other natural disasters. The instability of the often homemade shelters provides little to no protection from these calamities. The Asian Development Bank states that this and the fact that most slums are in dangerous locations make slum settlements vulnerable to natural hazards. Heavy rains in July 2000 caused a landslide of garbage that killed 218 people in a slum settled on top of a garbage dump.

  7. Habitat for Humanity is building stable shelters for slum residents in Manila. With the help of volunteers, the organization builds around 5,000 homes every year. The team works with the local government to rebuild homes and also construct new homes that can withstand the natural elements. From digging the foundation to pouring the concrete and laying the roof, the organization and volunteers create sustainable homes from the ground up for thousands of impoverished slum residents.

  8. The moderate economic growth in recent years did not help to mitigate poverty or slums. The Asian Development Bank reported an average 5.3 percent increase in GDP from 2003 to 2006. Poverty rates increased from 24 percent to 27 percent during that time and continued to increase in 2007 when the GDP growth was 7.1 percent. Chronic poverty, driven by factors like severe inequality and corruption, hinders the reduction of slum residents and settlements. The Philippines ranked 141 out of 180 countries in the 2008 Transparency International corruption perceptions index. According to the Asian Development Bank, local political dynasties manipulate markets to deter the poor from accessing private goods and capital. In 2006, the richest 20 percent owned 53 percent of the wealth in the country.

  9. Poverty is fuelling online child sex abuse in the slums. The live streaming of child pornography in these locations has led UNICEF to name the Philippines the global epicenter of the online child sex abuse trade. Despite the new cybercrime unit at the Philippines National Police Headquarters and the passage of an Anti-Child Pornography Law, convictions remain low and case reports high. This is partially due to the fact that the age of consent in the Philippines is only 12 years old. UNICEF reports that parents have even brought their children to these shows to earn money.

  10. Police and government corruption have engendered the unlawful killings of thousands of slum citizens at the hands of officers since the start of President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. These corrupt and violent raids target slum residents the most. A Human Rights Watch report found that these raids have unlawfully killed over 7,000 people. The report states that police often falsify evidence and falsely claim self-defense to get away with these extra-judicial killings. Although Duterte has not called for extra-judicial killings, his repeated calls for the killing of drug offenders and an absence of any investigations into the killings prompted the Human Rights Watch to label this campaign as a possible progenitor of crimes against humanity.

The Manila government has struggled to find ways to reduce poverty and the population of slum residents, but poverty is a drain on Manila’s economy. According to the Asian Development Bank, for every one percent increase in poverty, there is a 0.7 percent decrease in overall per capita income. Along with this economic algorithm, a lack of investment, access to capital and financial markets throughout slum communities hinders economic growth. Different non-governmental organizations like Habitat for Humanity and Project PEARLS are providing basic essentials and helpful assistance for the different struggles of slum life. However, the Philippines requires more research and both domestic and international assistance to mitigate and eventually solve the aforementioned 10 facts about slums in Manila.

– Zach Brown
Photo: Flickr

Malnutrition in the PhilippinesThe Republic of the Philippines is a nation comprised of several islands in southeast Asia. The Philippines gained independence after centuries of colonial rule from the Spanish and the U.S. in 1946. However, it is still struggling to overcome the effects long-term colonial rule had on its people. Despite many government campaigns to alleviate this issue, poverty is still rampant on these islands. While just over 20 percent of the overall population of the Philippines is impoverished, there are many areas of the country in which roughly 75 percent of the public live in poverty. While there are many factors that serve to further cycles of poverty, one of the biggest barriers this population faces is malnutrition in the Philippines.

Background on Malnutrition

A person impacted by malnutrition is not getting enough nutrients, either due to a lack of food or a poor diet. In children, this can lead to stunted growth. Furthermore, it can lead to serious health issues for people of all ages. These health issues can be chronic, and make it hard for individuals to have sustained employment. Additionally, these issues can leave children orphaned at a young age, perpetuating the cycle of poverty.

Malnutrition in the Philippines

  1. Half the population suffers from malnutrition-related conditions – In the Philippines, about 50 percent of the population suffers from anemia caused by iron deficiency. Large percentages of people suffer from other malnutrition-related ailments. Such ailments lead to fatigue and decreased immune function.
  2. Stunted growth is common – One in three children in the Philippines has had their growth stunted by malnutrition. If this stunting occurs after two years of age, there is a chance it can be irreversible and even fatal.
  3. Lack of education causes malnutrition symptoms to go unnoticed – Signs of malnutrition are often missed in the Philippines due to a lack of education the public receives on nutrition. A child with a large stomach may not be perceived as having a nutritional deficiency. However, a distended stomach is often an indicator that something is amiss.
  4. Malnutrition is bad for the economy – People who experience stunting due to malnutrition tend to have far lower incomes than those who did not. This is also the case for families who have lost a child due to malnutrition. Overall, malnutrition takes away approximately $328 billion dollars, or 3 percent, of the Philippines’ GDP per year.
  5. Children’s Hour is helping families – A nonprofit organization called Children’s Hour has set up across the country. The organization focuses on ending malnutrition in the Philippines. They do this by providing meals for families, as well as teaching them about healthy practices in eating and preparing food. When they began these programs, 90 to 95 percent of participants were undernourished. Now, 75 percent of the children are at a healthy weight. While this organization has made massive strides, it is a nonprofit with limited funding. For this program to expand, it would need a lot more funding.

Ending Malnutrition Can Offer a Brighter Future

Ultimately, ensuring that children have adequate nutrients in their diets can do a lot to ensure that malnutrition in the Philippines becomes a thing of the past. When rates of malnutrition decrease, people will be healthier, happier and more productive. And finally, far less will live in poverty.

– Gillian Buckley
Photo: Flickr