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Bamboo HousesOne young and ambitious entrepreneur is rising to the occasion in response to the Philippines’ problem of poverty with the invention of bamboo houses.

Poverty in the Philippines

Although the island’s poverty rate has recently fallen from 26.6 percent in 2006 to 21.6 percent in 2015, it still saw approximately 22 million living below the national poverty line. That is over one-fifth of the population.

The creation of jobs outside of agriculture is helping lift the nation out of impoverishment. Unfortunately, constraints like inequality of income and opportunities, the effects of natural disasters and an increasing population prevent many families from achieving a higher quality of life.

Homelessness is something that many Filipino citizens contend with. The Philippines has a rapidly increasing population. In fact, it is estimated to reach 12 million by 2030. Currently, 44 percent of people residing in urban environments live in slums. Furthermore, 1.2 million children are homeless throughout the islands. Manila, the capital, holds 3.1 million homeless Filipinos. Of these residents, 70,000 are children. An imminent need for affordable and durable houses is upon the nation.

The invention of bamboo houses is an innovative solution to finally aid this country’s poverty and homeless crisis.

Cubo Bamboo Houses in the Philippines

A recent graduate from Ateneo de Manila University, Earl Forlales, has conceptualized a fast way to easily assemble affordable houses out of bamboo. Bamboo grows quickly and abundantly on the islands. It is able to be processed into sturdy building material. Forlales said he got the idea for what he’s named “Cubo units” from the structure of nipa huts. These are native houses popular in the rural Philippines.

“The Cubo unit itself is a standard three-by-four-meter studio meant to house two residents,” Forlales explained. “The prefabricated modules only take four hours to install on-site and would only cost roughly Php 4,200 (around $82) per square meter.”

These bamboo houses may be compact, but they are designed to last for around 50 years. Aside from the residential units, Cubo blueprints for daycare and community centers are also being designed. With the versatility of these designs, a small neighborhood will be able to be revitalized in a matter of days.

Today, Forlales’ Cubo units are closer to actual construction than ever before. The young entrepreneur recently won the United Kingdom’s Cities for Our Future competition, winning over 1,200 entries and walking away with enough prize money to help him jump-start his business. Now, Forlales has a website up-and-running for the company. Additionally, he is working to assemble a five-star team that will help his award-winning visions into reality.

Bamboo Houses: The Big Picture

Although Cubo bamboo houses were created with low-income Manila neighborhoods in mind, the designs are applicable to any region where bamboo can be grown. The potential of the idea has no limit and can help hundreds of disadvantaged families live comfortably where they had once been victimized.

Forlales’ vision is something to be admired. He is more than ready to set his plans into motion and begin construction.

“My ultimate dream [is a] Philippines with no slums…I really just want to do something that would impact peoples’ lives, and ideally that something would outlive me.”

Though it may be too early to tell, it seems that his bamboo houses may just set the new norm for living conditions in urban Manila. One idea will positively affect its residents for generations to come.

– Haley Hiday
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in the Philippines
As of 2015, 22 million Filipinos are still living in the depths of poverty. That equates to one-fifth of the population. Poverty presents itself in a vicious cycle affecting mainly the uneducated population who tend to live in large family units. These family units usually have only one head of the household who provides income for the entire family.

The Filipino government is actively trying to speed up its poverty reduction plan. Their long-term goal is to be able to provide more economic prospects, which in turn would help many of their citizens earn a higher and more stable income. A report by the World Bank shows how this economic growth helped decline the rate of poverty. Poverty in the Philippines dropped by 26.6 percent in 2006 to 21.6 percent in 2015.

Key Programs to Help Reduce Poverty in the Philippines

Some factors that resulted in the drop in poverty are the expansion of jobs outside the agriculture sector, government transfers and getting qualified Filipinos to help through the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program. This particular program which is a government cash-handout project has helped reduce poverty by 25 percent.

Most of the Philippines are hit with massive typhoons and still have an armed conflict. These scenarios are a real struggle to the everyday worker who, even after a long day, still goes back home poor. Due to these factors, many citizens end up leaving behind farm work and go find work in manufacturing hubs in the urban areas of the country. These jobs outside the agricultural dome have accounted for two-thirds of the progress in reducing poverty in the Philippines.

One of the key strategies to help bring down poverty in the Philippines is providing birth control to the poor. In a radical move for the heavily populated Catholic country, the President made readily available birth control to nearly 6 million women who cannot afford it.

Providing birth control is a powerful tool for families who now have full control over family planning. The hope is by giving the women and family units more control, they will have fewer children. This, in turn, will mean that families can provide more responsibly.  This new policy will help the government reach its goal of reducing poverty by 13 percent by 2022.

The current Filipino population is at 104 million and continues to rise at an alarming rate of 1.7 percent each year. This new law will enable families to control how many children they want. It will also hopefully take down the population rate to 1.4 percent each year once the law is fully executed.

Government Hopeful About Achieving its Aim

Even though the Philippines have worked hard in the past to reduce their poverty and keep up with their neighbors China, Vietnam and Indonesia, they still have a long way to go. Marak K. Warwick of The World Bank believes that with a solid foundation there is a reason to be optimistic that the Philippines can achieve their goal.

The goal for the Philippine government is to create more jobs, improve productivity, invest in health and nutrition while focusing on reducing poverty. If the government is able to execute its plans successfully, it is capable of reducing poverty in the Philippines by 13 to 15 percent by 2022.

-Jennifer O’Brien
Photo: Flickr

Fishermen Poverty in the South China Sea
The South China Sea represents more than just a geopolitical struggle; it is a hotspot for fishing. Beijing claims that its historic rights give it ownership inside the so-called Nine-Dash Line, covering around 80 percent of the South China Sea. These claims contradict maritime laws, among them The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and have received backlash from several Southeast Asian countries.

For example, China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Vietnam all hold overlapping claims over the Spratlys Islands, a group of islands, archipelagos and reefs. Aggression from all sides and a lack of cooperation on fishing regulations have endangered the livelihoods of fishermen, who rely on the South China Sea for sustenance. Here are seven facts about fishermen poverty in the South China Sea:

7 Facts about Fishermen Poverty in the South China Sea

  1. The South China Sea fisheries constitute the economic lifeblood of claimant states. They are the home of upwards of 3,365 species of marine fish, and 55 percent of marine fishing vessels operate in the South China Sea. Moreover, approximately 12 percent of global fishing catches occur there. In addition to being a source of nutrition, the fisheries provide employment to at least 3.7 million people.

  2. Overfishing has depleted the fishing reserves of the South China Sea. A Stimson report released in December 2012 found that shallow reefs and shoals have been exploited to their limit. Relative to other regions of Earth, portions of the South China Sea are among the most highly affected marine ecosystems.

  3. Coastal development has further aggravated marine species. Mangroves, for example, occupy a mere 70 percent of their original land area in the South China Sea, and seagrass beds have shrunk to 50 percent of pre-industrial levels. Industrial pollutants, tourism and sediment runoff have endangered marine species, which use coastal habitats for spawning purposes. When these coastal habitats become depleted, fishermen venture beyond national limits, leading to confrontations at sea.

  4. Overexploitation of stocks has forced fishermen to turn to dangerous fishing techniques. In order to make up for economic losses, fishermen have used explosives and cyanide to boost yields. Some have resorted to blast fishing, in which dynamite is used to kills schools of fish. This allows for easy collection, but it seriously harms the coral reefs and seabed in the process. In Indonesia alone, fishing explosives have cost up to $3.8 billion between 1980 and 2000.

  5. Fishermen poverty is a common type of poverty in countries surrounding the South China Sea. 80 percent of Indonesian fishing households earn incomes below the country’s poverty line. In the Tay Ninh province of Vietnam, people working in the fisheries sector made up 88 percent of very low-income households in 1999. Moreover, poverty is more prevalent in Filipino fishing households than in the average Filipino household.

  6. Legal uncertainty about the status of artificial islands and false claims in the South China Sea have exacerbated tensions between fishermen from different Southeast Asian nations. Maritime border disputes have prevented countries from establishing a framework for cooperation. With no regulation of fishing activities, illegal and unreported fishing has gone rampant in the South China Sea.

  7. Border disputes have put the lives of Southeast Asian fishermen in danger. CNN reported that, in 2015, Chinese vessels attacked 200 Ly Son (Vietnamese) fishermen and 17 fishing boats. Starting in 2005 and lasting seven years, Chinese government ships kidnapped Vietnamese fishers for ransom near The Paracel Islands. Romel Cejuela, a Filipino fisherman, explained that the Chinese Coast Guard personnel “board our boats, look at where we store the fish and take the best ones.” China is not the sole perpetrator of these acts of violence and robbery. In 2017, Reuters article Indonesia’s navy shot four Vietnamese fishermen on a fishing boat in the South China Sea.

On June 27, 2018, representatives from the member states of The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China met in Changsha to negotiate a “code of conduct” for vessels traveling through the South China Sea. For the first time, China and ASEAN reached a consensus on a set of maritime rules and planned to hold joint maritime exercises in the future. While some critics dismiss the meeting as a Chinese ploy, agreements like this one are necessary for fishermen whose lives depend on stability in the South China Sea.

To alleviate fishermen poverty and create an environment more conducive to cooperation and sustainable fishing, it is essential that Southeast Asian nations delineate territorial claims and abide by a rules-based international order. With the negotiations currently underway, this may occur sooner than originally anticipated.

– Mark Blekherman
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Poverty in the Philippines
Poverty in the Philippines is more persistent than in other countries in Southeast Asia. Consisting of 7,641 islands, the Republic of the Philippines is a country located in the western Pacific Ocean. Despite a declining poverty rate in recent years, 21.6 percent of the country’s population still live below the national poverty line.

Rural areas in the Philippines show a poverty rate of 36 percent in comparison with the 13 percent of urban areas. However, urban poverty has also shown a steady increase in recent years, possibly due to the unemployed and low-income migrants who are unable to afford housing.

Other key contributors to the poverty rate include vulnerability to shocks and natural disasters, an underdeveloped agricultural sector, high population growth and moderate economic growth. Here are 10 facts about poverty in the Philippines, including the causes, outcomes and improvements.

10 Facts About Poverty in the Philippines

  1. Agriculture is the main source of income for rural inhabitants, primarily in farming and fishing. Most farmers and small landholders live in areas that are prone to natural disasters or conflicts. Declines in agricultural productivity, unsuccessful small landholder farming operations and unsustainable practices have caused deforestation and weakened fish stocks.
  2. Over a third of the rural inhabitants in the Philippines are impoverished. Indigenous people residing in these areas experience higher rates of illiteracy, unemployment and poverty. A lack of access to productive capital and limited market access has created slow economic growth and underemployment. The rural poor have limited options for off-farm employment and low access to inexpensive financial services.
  3. The majority of poor Filipino households have only achieved basic levels of education. At least two-thirds of poor households are headed by an individual with an elementary level education or below. Additionally, most poor families have minimal access to health and education services.
  4. Poverty levels in the Philippines are affected by unrestrained population growth. The average poor family in the Philippines consists of six or more members. Similar to other countries, impoverished regions typically have higher birth rates. In rural areas in the Philippines, the average woman will have 3.8 children compared to the cities where the average woman will have 2.8.
  5. Four out of 10 poor families in urban areas do not have decent living conditions. Most of the poor households in urban areas reside as informal settlements in slum areas of major cities like Manila. These homes do not include proper facilities and also are bad for the environment. These settlers typically move to major cities from other provinces in search of better economic opportunity and livelihood.
  6. Moderate economic growth has not resulted in poverty reduction. The average annual GDP increased by only 0.63 percent per person between 1980 and 2005. Incidents of inequality among regions have also continued to increase, hindering the reduction of poverty. The country’s economic growth is directed at Manila and the two bordering provinces. This prevents distant provinces from sharing the benefits of prosperity.
  7. The Government of the Philippines utilizes social protection programs to provide poor families with direct assistance. Impoverished families can receive cash assistance through a conditional cash transfer program. The program requires all families to enroll their children in school and vaccinate their children with government-provided immunizations.
  8. The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is working in the Philippines to improve the incomes and food security of rural populations. IFAD primarily focuses on women, fishers, small landholders and indigenous people residing in fragile ecosystems. Recent projects and programs are intended to improve the environment with natural resource management and sustainable access to land. Projects also include skills for managing soil and water along with support for fishing communities.
  9. President Rodrigo Duterte has been focused on improving poverty-related issues for the country’s poor. President Duterte signed an executive order to pass a law that makes contraception free and more easily accessible to the poor. Duterte is also improving infrastructure with new roads, bridges and airports as a result of a planned increase in expenditure. Such improvements will better connect impoverished communities to Manila and thus bring opportunities for better jobs.
  10. The government of the Philippines created AmBisyon 2040 and The Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022 in efforts to reduce poverty. Both plans aim to improve living conditions for the poor and reduce poverty by 15 percent by 2022. To achieve this goal, it is recommended these policies work towards creating more jobs, improving productivity in all sectors and educating Filipinos with the necessary skills for work in today’s economy.

The Republic of the Philippines has made and continues to make improvements in poverty reduction. However, overpopulated urban areas and lack of economic opportunities for rural populations still create a need for more progress. The fact that such issues are receiving recognition from political leaders and various organizations is creating hope for the Philippines and its people.

– Diane Adame
Photo: Flickr

Infrastructure in the Philippines
Amidst the 7,107 western Pacific islands known as the Philippines, poverty is uniquely endemic. A country of scattered landmass, the Philippines is ranked the third most disaster-prone country in the world, as its close proximity to the equator encourages destructive weather such as earthquakes and storms. Natural disasters disproportionately and recurrently hit the poorest regions of the country, coursing them into higher levels of poverty.

This, along with uncontrolled population growth, exacerbates the reality of poverty within this collection of islands. Fortunately, there are significant plans in the works that focus on kicking such insufficiency to the curb, solutions that include the advancement of infrastructure in the Philippines.

Historically, insufficient infrastructure development has stunted both economic growth and poverty reduction, but there is an active movement toward improvement. Within the past couple of years, proposals have been met with action to pave the way for a change. The following are four important facts regarding infrastructure in the Philippines.

Four Facts About Infrastructure in the Philippines

  1. $7.6 billion has recently been approved to establish new infrastructure in the Philippines. President Rodrigo Duterte has plans for robust projects such as bridges, roads and the Metro Manila Subway. Under the national “Build, Build, Build” initiative, the country is looking to spend $180 billion to renovate and build airports, railways, roads and ports over a six-year period.
  2. Additional financing for the Rural Development Project for the Philippines was approved January 11, 2018. Costing over $2 million, this project aims to promote job creation, especially within rural development. It seeks to boost rural incomes and enrich both farm and fishery productivity in specified regions, as well as to establish essential pieces of infrastructure, like a network of roads, that allow farmers to sell products at market and connect to the urban areas.
  3. The Mindanao Trust Fund-Reconstruction and Development Project Phase II (MTF-RDP2) was approved April 4, 2018. Costing over $3 million, this project focuses on post-conflict reconstruction, improving labor market policy and programs, promoting social inclusion for ethnic minorities and appeasing forced displacement. The objective of the MTF Facility is to advance development in conflict-affected areas in Mindanao by assisting in social and economic recovery within these communities.The MTF-RDP2’s objective focuses on improved access for conflict-affected communities to basic socioeconomic structure and alternative learning systems. According to Xubei Luo, Senior Economist at the World Bank’s Poverty and Equity Global Practice, “Making a difference in Mindanao makes a big difference to the Philippines. Increasing public investment in Mindanao to boost development there would expand opportunities for conflict-affected communities, broaden access to services and create more and better jobs.”
  4. From 2006 to 2015, poverty in the Philippines took a dive. A recent report by the World Bank states that economic growth is responsible for poverty levels dropping by five percent. From 26.6 percent in 2006 to 21.6 percent in 2015, such a decrease in numbers is also a result of the expansion of job opportunities outside the agriculture sector.The Filipino government has a goal to reduce poverty from 13 to 15 percent by 2022. According to the World Bank, plans include the Philippine Development Plan 2017–2022 and AmBisyon 2040, a long-term vision to reduce poverty and recover the lives and wellbeing of the most marginalized regions and communities of the nation.The World Bank’s Poverty Assessment report recommends the following policy directions to achieve the proposed targets: “Create more and better jobs; improve productivity in all sectors, especially agriculture; equip Filipinos with skills needed for the 21st century economy; invest in health and nutrition; focus poverty reduction efforts on Mindanao; and manage disaster risks and protect the vulnerable.”

The sizeable collection of Filipino islands has an undying potential to continue reducing poverty through its infrastructure advancement efforts. Although an extremely complex process, both the booming Filipino economy and government project initiatives are projected to gradually alleviate cyclical Filipino poverty. The future of infrastructure in the Philippines is looking bright.

– Mary Grace Miller
Photo: Flickr

poverty in the philippines
Poverty in the Philippines has declined from 26.6 percent in 2006 to 21.6 percent in 2015. A report released by the World Bank on May 30, 2018 titled ‘Making Growth Work for the Poor: A Poverty Assessment of the Philippines’ reveals the major factors that contributed to this decrease.

Factors for Poverty Decline in Philippines

  • A rise in income and introduction of new job opportunities beyond the agricultural sector led to about two-third of decline in poverty.
  • The Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, a cash transfer program of the Philippine government, enhanced the living conditions of 1.5 million people thereby reducing national poverty by 1.5 percent. The program works towards alleviating poverty by providing financial assistance to 77 percent of poor households.
  • Houses that received foreign or domestic remittances experienced significant changes in their living conditions. Around 15 million households in the Philippines receive money through domestic or foreign employment sources; this helped reduce poverty by up to 4 percent.

However, though these positive developments helped reduce poverty in the Philippines, the rate of decline has been very slow compared to East Asian countries. Between 2006 and 2015, there has only been a 0.9 percent decline in poverty as per the international poverty line ($1.90/day), while the East Asian countries — including China, Indonesia and Vietnam — have shown 2-2.5 percent in poverty reduction.

Education, Employment and Disaster Relief

Lack of education is one of the main reasons for this slow decline. Since a majority of the poor lack an education, they lack access to better employment opportunities; this trend thus keeps the majority of citizens trapped in the poverty cycle.

Many poor households also have only one earning member in the family, who is generally employed as a laborer in the agricultural sector. Such households are often the poorest and remain extremely vulnerable to the frequent changes in production rates.

Another reason for poverty in the Philippines is the deterioration of the quality of employment over the years. A report reveals that although the Philippines has experienced economic growth, it has failed to maintain consistently high standards in various sectors. In addition, poor disaster management skills have often lead to failure of timely protection and evacuation of people.

The Need for Productive Employment

The U.N. clearly highlights the link between economic growth, high-paying jobs and poverty eradication. The group states that economic growth of the country as a whole on its own will not help in reducing poverty; rather, economic growth has to be combined with an increase in the number of “productive employment” made accessible to the poor.

As mentioned in the report, “The vicious cycle of inequitable investment in human capital and lack of well-paying job opportunities traps the poor in poverty generation after generation.” What is needed then is to transform the pattern of growth to make it more inclusive, and to provide better jobs to achieve higher and more stable incomes. The vice chairman of the labor committee, Senator Juan Edgaro Angara states that “jobs remain the key to poverty. If there is enough income, a permanent and decent job, the lives of Filipinos would be surely uplifted.”

The Public Employment Service Office of Philippines (PESO) held a job expo on June 2, 2018, at which around 103 people were hired on the spot. This gathering is considered to be one of the biggest job fairs in Visayas, Philippines and this year it presented people with around 33,000 positions. Sen. Juan Angara commended the expo and said that every province, city and municipality in the Philippines has its own PESO — this prevalence should ensure that every Filipino gets a job to help them rise out of poverty.

Just days after this job expo, another job fair was organized at Rizal Park, Manila on June 12, 2018, to mark the 102nd anniversary of Philippine Independence. According to the Department of Labor and Employment, around 30,000 jobs were offered which included 45 local, 25 overseas and eight government agency positions. Generally, though, it was the transportation and domestic construction sectors that offered a majority of the vacant positions.

New Initiatives to Alleviate Poverty in the Philippines

The Philippines has around 22 million people — or around one-fifth of its population — still living below the poverty line. The launch of AmBisyon 2040 by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) is a long-term commitment to uplift the underprivileged sections of the society.

Functioning parallel to such an effort is also the Philippines Development Plan 2017-2022. Both these initiatives have set out ambitious goals to eradicate poverty in the Philippines by transforming the country into a prosperous middle-class society where “people will live long and healthy lives, be smart and innovative and will live in a high-trust society.”

To make this a reality, the government has taken up the task of reducing poverty by one percent every year to see a reduction of 13-15 percent by 2022. In addition to these two initiatives, the poverty assessment stresses the following to catalyze the rate of poverty decline:

  • Focusing on creating a greater number of high-paying jobs
  • Improving the business environment to attract more investment
  • Making means to improve productivity in all sectors, mainly agriculture
  • Ensuring skill development to make the Filipino population highly capable for the 21st century economy
  • Improving health and nutrition
  • Placing special emphasis on initiatives to reduce poverty in Mindanao
  • Making better provisions to manage disasters and protect the vulnerable sections of the society

Thus, with new initiatives and a greater focus on creating more well-paying jobs, the government hopes to reduce poverty in the Philippines and bring about a permanent change in the lives of the Filipino people.

– Shruthi Nair
Photo: Flickr

poverty and overcrowding
The world is experiencing rapid population growth and urbanization. Advances in medicine have allowed for increased life expectancy as well as decreased infant mortality, while birth rates have largely remained unchanged. This combination of circumstances has lead to great growth; between 1999 and 2011, the population increased by nearly one billion people.

The population increase has led to rapid urbanization. People migrate to cities with the promise of economic or educational opportunity, technological advancement and access to health care. It is estimated that by 2050, 66 percent of the world’s population will live in urban areas.

This urbanization of cities that are neither prepared nor equipped to deal with overcrowding places strain on both natural and manmade resources alike. The following is a list of five cities suffering from both poverty and overcrowding.

Five Major Cities Dealing With Poverty and Overcrowding

  1. Mumbai, India: With a population density of 171.9 people per square mile, India is notorious for overcrowding. Mumbai is no exception, with a population near 23 million and a population density of almost 70,000 people per square mile.Mumbai serves as India’s commercial hub and is home to the Bollywood industry, making it prone to migration. Yet, those with hopes of Bollywood often end up in prostitution or organized crime. The population has doubled in 25 years, leading to many slum neighborhoods.In fact, half of the population of Mumbai lives in overcrowded, unsanitary slums that comprise only eight percent of the city’s geographic area. Although great wealth exists throughout Mumbai, poverty and overcrowding continue to increase.
  1. Dhaka, Bangladesh: Being named the most densely populated city in the world in 2015, Dhaka suffers from overcrowding and poverty alike. It has also been named to lists of least livable cities and fastest growing cities.Its population is over 18 million, with a density of 114,300 people per square mile. Roughly one-third of Dhaka’s residents live in poverty, with two million inhabiting slums or without any form of shelter.
  1. Lagos, Nigeria: Lagos is Africa’s fastest growing city. In 2017, the population was 21 million; the U.N. predicts that this number will rise to over 24 million by 2030.Situated between the Atlantic Ocean and a lagoon, Lagos is Nigeria’s commercial capital. Yet, 300,000 people live in slum neighborhoods and make a living by fishing out of hand-built canoes.  One-fifth of the city’s residents live in poverty.The slum houses are fashioned from scrap-metal and elevated on stilts to protect against flooding. There is little access to clean water, electricity or quality education. The majority of slums are built along the coast, causing friction with the wealthy as well as the government, which has evicted many communities on faulty logic in order to seize the land.
  1. Manila, Philippines: Manila has a population of 1.7 million and a land area of less than 10 square miles, leading to a high population density of over 170,000 people per square mile. Manila serves as the Philippines capital and home of its banking and commerce industries.In Manila, 600,000 people live in slum districts, which are ridden with disease and malnutrition. Many kids do not attend school, as parents are often forced to choose between feeding the family or sending the kids to school.
  1. Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia: Ulaanbaatar boasts the highest population density on this list, with over 760,000 people per square mile. The influx in population resulted in unplanned neighborhoods known as “ger” areas, which house 60 percent of Ulaanbaatar’s population but are vulnerable to natural disasters and lack water and sanitation sources as well as electricity.A number of expensive apartment buildings mark the city’s skyline, yet many of these buildings remain empty due to the high cost of living. The government intervention has tended to benefit the upper-income subgroups, rather than those living in poverty.

Poverty and overcrowding are endlessly entwined. Rather than placing a halt on migration and urbanization as many cities have attempted, lack of affordable housing, quality water and sanitation facilities, education opportunity and food shortages ought to be addressed. Cities must respond to the growing demands that come with overcrowding in order to help alleviate poverty and decrease hardship.

– Jessie Serody
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Poverty in Manila
With a population of 1.78 million, Manila is the capital of and second largest city in the Philippines. It has 42,857 people per square kilometer, making it is the world’s most densely populated city. Manila struggles with crime, overpopulation and pollution. Here are 10 facts about poverty in Manila.

Facts About Poverty in Manila

  1. There are 3.1 million homeless people living in Manila. The city has the highest homeless population of any in the world. In the Philippines, more than 1.2 million children are homeless and over half of these are found in Manila.
  2. One-tenth of slum dwellers live in the capital of Manila. The Tondo District, a neighborhood in Manila, is one of the most densely populated places with 80,000 people per square kilometer. According to the United Nations, many of them lack adequate water, housing, sanitation, education, health and employment.
  3. The annual average of air pollution in Manila is 70 percent more than the recommended safe level. Dangerously high levels of air pollution are more threatening to urban areas such as Manila and come with multiple health risks.
  4. Nearly 10 percent of the estimated 39 million Filipinos ages six to 24 is an Out of School Child and Youth (OSCY) in Manila. This is equivalent to one in ten Filipinos, with OSCY referring to those who are not attending formal school, are not currently out of school, have not gained employment and have not finished college or post-secondary courses.
  5. There are an estimated 6,000 slum-dwellers from 800 families living in cemetery slums in Manila North. These communities have existed since the 1950s. Manila North is the city’s oldest and largest cemetery, encompassing an expansive 133 acres.
  6. Within these cemeteries, frequent, violent anti-drug raids by the Philippine National Police (PNP) have killed more than 12,000 people since June 2016. These killings are linked to President Rodrigo Duterte’s “war on drugs” campaign. The PNP claim that crime and drug use is prevalent in these cemeteries, which is liked to the high levels of unemployment of those living in the cemeteries.
  7. In Manila, 3.4 million children are stunted with over 300,000 underweight, all of whom are under the age of five. Poor nutrition has remained a constant problem and has made the Philippines has the ninth highest prevalence of stunted kids of all countries in the world. Studies show that this number is expected to grow if the government does not boost support for social services.
  8. “Happyland,” a slum area of Tondo, has more than 12,000 people living in shelters built around a garbage dump. Residents of “Happyland” look through garbage daily for anything of value. One common finding is chicken scraps which are collected in bins and then recycled through boiling. This is referred to as “pagpag,” which is then sold to hungry families in slums for a few pesos.
  9. Slums are scattered over 526 communities in all cities and municipalities of Metro Manila. These communities house 2.5 million people in either vacant private or public lands, usually along rivers, near garbage dumps, along railroad tracks, under bridges and beside industrial establishments.
  10. On average, three-quarters of the households in Manila’s slums are long-term, or more than five years, residents of the area. The average settlement is 19.2 years, with the majority of households migrating to the areas from other cities within the metro or the city.

These facts about poverty in Manila illustrate some of the extremes that people in the city live under, but this does not mean that there is no opportunity for change. Organizations such as CARE are working in the Philippines to help the urban poor in Manila and other cities, and in 2017, they aided more than 30,000 individuals in improving their quality of life. Continued assistance can ensure that these facts about poverty in Manila affect fewer people in the future.

– Ashley Quigley

Photo: Google


Despite the rising economic growth rates in the Philippines, poverty in the Philippines continues to prevail nationwide. According to the Asian Development Bank (ADB), 21.6 percent of Filipinos live below the national poverty line.

There are many factors that create and maintain the cycle of poverty in the Philippines. Unemployment is one of the main reasons that poverty reduction has not kept up with the country’s growth. Alongside an increasing population, job resources remain insufficient for millions of Filipinos.

The Philippine poverty condition remains a challenge due to the government’s lack of capacity to establish sustainable poverty reduction programs. Governments from other countries, alongside international institutions, have implemented strategies aimed to tackle the Philippine poverty crisis. These programs share the common goal of alleviating poverty in the Philippines by addressing unemployment in the country.

The World Bank

The World Bank plays a large role in working towards eradicating poverty in the Philippines. One of the projects financed by the World Bank is the ‘Philippine Rural Development Project.’ The goal of the project is to create greater work opportunities for Filipinos in the rural areas by supporting farmers and fishermen through improving their access to markets.

As of last year, results from The World Bank reported an increase in household incomes for farmers and fisherfolk beneficiaries. As of January 2018, this project has been approved for additional financing to continue its contribution in addressing poverty in the Philippines.

The United States of America

USAID has established the Philippine-American Fund (Phil-Am Fund) as a strategy to tackle poverty in the Philippines. One of the program’s objectives is to develop solutions to the country’s economic challenges. The Phil-Am fund financially supports  Philippine organizations to support business start-ups.

This strategy to address the poverty crisis promotes entrepreneurship by offering a self-sufficient facility for citizens who do not have the capacity to take part in the province’s economic activities.

As of last year, the Phil-Am fund has managed to support the establishment of start-up businesses, provide training in standards for food-related establishments and has integrated more efficient farming technology in the Philippines.

Australia

Australia’s foreign aid to the Philippines includes ‘The Philippines’ Sustainable Livelihood Program’ (SLP), which helps Filipino families by providing employment assistance. The SLP also helps Filipino citizens start at enterprise — an approach that encourages self-sufficiency.

Australia’s aid program aligns with the Philippine government’s goal to tackle poverty and promote development. Sustainable livelihood is the primary goal of this program, and includes micro enterprises, skills training and pre-employment assistance.

Filipinos who take part in this program have agency and decision-making responsibilities by providing access to microenterprise development and employment. SLP has become an efficient platform for productivity and development and since its establishment in 2011, SLP has achieved 97 percent of targeted program participants.

Promotion of Autonomy

The above-mentioned programs designed to address the Philippine poverty crisis all share one feature: the encouragement of self-efficiency. Rather than providing charity to the Filipino citizens living in poverty, these programs empower the people by giving them access to opportunities. The citizens are provided with the agency to take control of their work, promoting an inclusive form of development.

– Dane de Leon

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Philippines' Poverty RateThe Philippines’ poverty rate decreased from 25.2 percent in 2012 to 21.6 percent in 2015, according to the Family Income and Expenditure Survey (FIES) conducted by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

The drop in the Philippines’ poverty rate coincides with a steady decline for extreme poverty in the country. In 2015, 12.1 percent of the population lived in extreme poverty. Those who classify as living under extreme poverty are those whose earnings cannot buy three meals a day.

But despite the decline in these numbers, there are still glaring problems regarding the issue of poverty. One of the more prominent ones is the continued prevalence of poverty within most of the basic sectors in the country. Five of the nine basic sectors determined by the PSA—farmers (34.3 percent), fishermen (34.0), children belonging to families with income below the official poverty threshold (31.4), self-employed and unpaid family workers (25.0) and women belonging to poor families (22.5)—have higher poverty rates than the general population (at 21.6 percent). Farmers and fishermen consistently registered as the two sectors with the highest poverty incidence since 2006.

 

Poverty in the Philippines

 

Not surprisingly, the poorest regions in the country lay in the rural and agricultural areas, particularly in the island of Mindanao, an underdeveloped region that has also served as a battleground for Muslim militants and government forces for decades. The Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) registered the highest poverty incidence in the survey. Additionally, 53.4 percent of its 3,781,387 residents live below the poverty threshold and 30.1 percent live in extreme poverty.

In contrast, the Philippine capital of Metro Manila had the lowest proportion of the poor. Only 6.5 percent of the population lived below the official poverty line.

The downward trend in the Philippines’ poverty rate have most experts hopeful that poverty will continue to fall. Some are quick to cite that despite the fall in numbers, there are still more than 26 million Filipinos who remain poor, with 12 million lacking the means to feed themselves.

However, most agree that addressing the basic roots of poverty also must address graver issues that stem from it. Drops in the Philippines’ overall poverty rate do not matter to those who see no way out in war-torn towns, says counterinsurgency expert Justin Richmond. “The widespread vulnerability that you see in every area dealing with radicalization is lack of economic opportunities,” Richmond says in an interview with Rappler, a Philippine news organization.

Richmond also maintains that only in improving the standard of living in underdeveloped areas can the government truly prevent a possible radicalization of citizens.

“It’s all based on vulnerability,” Richmond concludes.

Bella Suansing

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