World

Record number of families in the Philippines going hungry

MANILA: The number of people in the Philippines going hungry has reached a record high during the pandemic, according to pollster Social Weather Stations.

Nearly one-third of families - or 7.6 million households - did not have enough food to eat at least once in the previous three months, its September survey showed.

Among them were 2.2 million families experiencing "severe hunger" - the highest ever.

The numbers have been going up since May, two months after the country went into a severe lockdown.

Virus restrictions have been eased in recent months to allow more businesses to operate as the government seeks to revive a devastated economy.

Mr Daniel Auminto, 41, spent years sleeping on the streets and eking out a meagre living. His fortunes changed in 2019 when he found stable work. It gave him enough money to rent a room in Manila, which he shared with his wife and their two-year-old daughter. He could also buy food and even save for their future. Then Covid-19 hit.

"We lost our home, my job. We even lost our clothes, which were stolen from us," said Mr Auminto, as he sat in a park where the family sleeps on a flattened cardboard box at night.

Every day they join long queues of mostly homeless people to receive a free meal from an outdoor food pantry. He said it was "painful" to have lost everything and be back on the street where the police treat them "like animals". - AFP

WORLD