Current issues and what the World Food Programme is doing
Though a low middle-income country, the Philippines has a food deficit, which is exacerbated by the combined effects of natural and man-made disasters that include earthquakes, typhoons and armed conflict.
The country is one of the world's most disaster-prone countries, ranking second out of 171 countries on the 2014 World Risk Index and second out of 181 countries on the 2014 Global Climate Risk Index. Mindanao has suffered from over four decades of armed conflict, resulting in internal displacements and overall deterioration of living standards. The people of the Central Mindanao region are the country’s poorest.
The World Food Programme (WFP) works closely with the Government of the Philippines, United Nations agencies, non-governmental organisations, and communities to support poor and vulnerable people in the Philippines, in particular, those affected by the conflict in the Mindanao region. WFP’s focus is on assisting people to rebuild their lives and be better prepared for the consequences of natural and man-made disasters, increase long-term food and nutrition security, as well as helping communities build resilience and be better prepared for the consequences of natural and man-made disasters.
What are the current issues in the Philippines
For over four decades, the Mindanao region of the Philippines has been the scene of armed conflict between the Philippine Government and the separatist groups known as the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). This long-running conflict has seen the destruction of private property and social infrastructure, resulting in the deterioration of living standards and the country’s highest rates of poverty. Between 2000 and 2010, over 40 percent of families were displaced at least once as a result of the conflict. A peace agreement between the Government and MILF was signed in 2014, but the situation remains fragile.
The Philippines is one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world, experiencing around 20 typhoons a year - five of which are expected to cause major damage and trigger floods and landslides. In addition, the country is also vulnerable to the occurrences of earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and climate-related issues, such as drought.
Despite the country's decreasing national poverty prevalence since 2006, decades of armed conflict mean that the Mindanao region is home to the country’s poorest people. This is reflected in the fact that rates of primary school completion and stunted growth among children under five are significantly worse in this region than in the rest of the Philippines.
What the World Food Programme is doing in the Philippines
Though WFP’s work in the Philippines originally dates back to 1968, WFP re-established our presence in 2006 at the request of the Government of the Philippines to support its efforts towards achieving peace in the Mindanao region. WFP helps poor, vulnerable and displaced people in the Philippines to rebuild their lives after being affected by conflict and disasters. Our activities focus on improving food insecurity and helping communities build resilience to better prepare for natural disasters
WFP helps communities affected by conflict and natural disasters to rebuild their lives by encouraging self-sufficiency through food and cash assistance programmes. People are given food or cash and vouchers in return for their participation in asset-creation activities and vocational skills trainings aimed at strengthening their livelihoods and building resilience to shocks. More importantly, people can use the cash to meet their other household needs.
School meals and nutritional support
WFP provides school-age children in conflict-affected areas of Central Mindanao with hot, nutritious meals, giving them a third of their daily micronutrient needs. Every school year, over 65,000 children in Maguindanao, Lanao del Norte, and Lanao del Sur are supported with school meals. Teachers and parents prepare the meals to allow children to concentrate on their studies rather than their stomachs.
WFP also provides nutritious, ready-to-eat food to children 6-59 months, and to pregnant and nursing women in areas affected by conflict and natural disasters, giving infants the chance to achieve their full growth and development potential. The 2013 National Nutrition Survey shows that underweight and stunting amongst children in our operational areas in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao are now below the national averages, at 21.9 percent and 39 percent respectively.
To support our nutrition intervention in the Philippines, WFP is pioneering innovations to improve children’s health, such as a special micronutrient powder for children aged 6-23 months. WFP also developed a locally-produced fortified food for children aged 6-36 months, in partnership with the Food and Nutrition Research Institute.
Preparing for disasters
WFP works with the Government and other organisations to help the Philippines strengthen its resilience to natural disasters and climate change. WFP’s work helps the vulnerable and disaster-prone communities prepare for and respond to shocks through local community projects, innovative scientific technology, and capacity enhancement of logistics and supply chain management through the establishment of disaster response centres in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.
As one of the leading humanitarian actors, WFP is always ready to assist the Philippine Government in responding to emergencies such as earthquakes, typhoons and volcanic eruptions. WFP provides support such as rice and high-energy biscuits to the affected people to help them start to recover. In addition, WFP also provides logistics and telecommunications support to the humanitarian community during emergencies.
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