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Utilize your own backyard to end child hunger and malnutrition, says group

By Save the Children
March 12, 2012

MANILA  –  More than a hundred participants of the recent National Nutrition and Food Security Forum coming from local government units, people’s and non-government organizations, national government and development agencies urge communities to utilize their own backyards and idle lands to help end child hunger and malnutrition.

Ms. Hygea Ceres Gawe of the National Nutrition Council (NNC) revealed that 66.9% or more than half of Filipino households consume inadequate diets while 72.7% majority of households are worried about sufficiency of food because they do not have money to buy food.  According to Gawe, “Filipinos need to be self-sufficient especially in staple foods.  This will allow us to be less dependent on imported staple food, the prices of which are increasing.”

Save the Children, the forum organizer, showed hope in a proven and tested model that helped reduced hunger and improved the nutritional status of children in their pilot areas.  Ms. Norma Pongan, Luzon Visayas Program Manager of Save the Children, shared the project “Making Food Go Further” which taught families to turn their households into backyard gardens using recycled materials. Over 1,500 families from Parañaque City, Lake Sebu, South Cotabato and in San Remigio, Antique have set-up household gardens. The project, with support from Kraft Foods Philippines, has resulted to a decrease in the participants’ self-rated hunger from 47.6 percent to 36.7 percent.

“We hope that the results of the project in our project sites, especially Parañaque City, a highly urbanized area where malnutrition is the 6th cause of death among children under 5 years old, may be replicated in other cities and municipalities. From 15.6 percent, the number of underweight children ages 0 to 59 months has been reduced to 13.0 percent. It is our duty to help every child attain their right to be healthy and well nourished,” said Pongan.

Meanwhile, the Department of Agriculture (DA) also shared their urban gardening program which proved that households in urban areas with limited space can grow vegetables sufficiently in cans and plastic containers.

The Partnership Development Assistance of the Philippines (PDAP), a coalition of development organizations, showed how they are currently mainstreaming organic sugar and rice as viable and economically acceptable commodities in the market.

Aside from making your own backyard and idle lands productive, the forum also called for funds to be granted to all farmers. Mr. Don Marquez, Executive Director of the Asian NGO Coalition on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development, echoed the demand of the participants to establish seed banks and continue to enhance the capacities of households through community based trainings. “Our efforts should always ensure that food is always available, accessible, used well and sustained in each household, especially for our children” he said.