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Gov’t to meet 2015 MDG goals on 4 categories – NEDA Chief

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) is confident that the government would be able to achieve  the targets of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in the areas of food poverty, education, health and water supply.

Socio-Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan, concurrently director general of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) stressed the need to step up government efforts to meet the targets on income poverty, nutrition, maternal mortality, access to reproductive health services, addressing gender equality in terms of political participation of women and prevalence of HIV and AIDS.

“With less than 500 days to meet the MDGs, we need to accelerate progress in three major areas such as poverty and maternal health. Efforts have to be focused on boys to achieve gender equality in elementary and secondary education as well as on reducing the prevalence of HIV/AIDS,” said Balisacan.

Balisacan is also confident that on the first goal of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, there is a medium probability that the incidence of poverty would be reduced by half in 2015.

Income poverty in terms of poverty incidence has declined from 34.4 percent in 1991 to 25.2 percent in 2012, still far from the MDG target of 17.2 percent by 2015.

Balisacan noted that the rate of poverty reduction has been slow for the period of 2006 to 2012 with a reduction of only 1.4 percentage points. This may be due to natural calamities such as typhoons Ondoy, Pepeng, and Pablo, and economic shocks, he said.

On the regional performance, the poverty situation in the regions has improved in 2012 where less regions registered poverty incidence within the range of 35.8 percent to 54.6 percent. NCR, Regions IV-A, III, II, I and CAR had relatively low poverty incidence, even lower than the national average.

This may be due to generally higher standards of living in those regions, as shown by higher access to employment opportunities and basic social services, said Balisacan. However, the Bicol Region and most regions in Mindanao have a higher proportion of their population living below the poverty threshold.

Balisacan said subsistence incidence among the population has improved from 12 percent in 2006 to 10.4 percent in 2012. This means that 1 out of every 10 Filipinos do not have income adequate enough to meet basic food requirements. He also noted that there was a 0.1 percentage point increase in the semestral estimates from 13.3 in 2009 to 13.4 in 2012.

“Growth in employment contrasted with growth in economic output as the GDP growth rate in 2013 registered at 7.2 percent, while employment level growth rate was 0.8 percent. This seemingly conflicting relationship can be attributed largely to the fact that one third of the country’s total labor force is employed in the agriculture, forestry and fishing sector, which accounts for the smallest GDP contribution, and is highly sensitive to weather disturbances.”

The prevalence of underweight children under five years old decreased by 0.4 percentage points from 20.6 percent in 2008 to 20.2 percent in 2011. “To meet the MDG target of halving the number of underweight children by 2015, we will need to reduce this figure by 6.6 percentage points, or about 1.65 percentage points per year from 2011 to 2015,” said Balisacan.

The proportion of Filipino households with inadequate calorie intake decreased from 74.2 percent in 1990 to 57 percent in 2006.  However, the proportion increased by 9.9 percentage points from 2003 to 66.9 in 2008, far from the 2015 target of 37.1.

Balisacan added that to reach the MDG on halving levels of hunger in 2015, there is a need to reduce this number by 4 percentage points per year.