Filipino children: Hunger is a challenge, a problem

A series of consultations conducted by World Vision with local children’s congresses in the Philippines reveals that Filipino children view hunger as a challenge (hamon) or a problem (suliranin) that is faced by individuals, families, communities, and nations. The consultations, which was organized by World Vision in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao from November 2023 to February 2024, sought to paint a comprehensive picture of how Filipino children aged 12 to 17 make sense of child hunger and malnutrition based on their personal perspectives and experiences.

In addition to ascribing meaning to hunger, children identified both structural conditions such as poverty and social inequality, and individual circumstances such as insufficiency in both quality and quantity of meals, as some of the root causes of hunger. Likewise, the participants associated hunger with other issues that concern children, such as physical and mental health, literacy, and social integration.

The consultations also reveal how children define malnutrition and characterize it through physical, developmental, and financial indicators. One child leader from Visayas shared, “Para sa akin, ang malnutrisyon ay mga batang mapayat, maski matataba o obese. Kahit palagi kang kumakain, pero unhealthy naman ‘yung kinakain mo…”

For Filipino children, hunger and malnutrition are not arbitrary or vague concepts. Rather, both are actual issues that they have personally witnessed in their communities, neighborhoods, schools, and even homes.

To overcome the hamon and suliranin posed by child hunger and malnutrition, children recognize the importance of harnessing the resources and influence of both national and local institutions in enacting community-based solutions. This includes improving local agricultural practices, food production systems, and beliefs and attitudes towards food and nutrition. Moreover, children expressed interest in spearheading initiatives that will encourage more children and families to participate in the discussion.

“We want to hear the voices of children so that they can convey how they can help address the problem of malnutrition. Young as they are, children have an extensive understanding of the issue. We consider them as untapped resources,” said Christle Cubelo, World Vision Technical Program Manager on Health and Nutrition.

“Sometimes we forget that behind these figures is a life,” added World Vision Program Manager Mark Nasayao. “As a child-focused organization, we really want to push the children’s agenda with regard to child hunger and malnutrition.”

Related Stories