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Cut food, pawn articles to survive pandemic

Six out of every 10 Filipino households that experienced financial difficulties had to skip meals or pawn their possessions to survive in the pandemic, according to the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

ADB’s Key Indicators for Asia and the Pacific 2021 report showed 64% of households who were in financial distress had to resort to coping strategies.

These strategies, which included reducing food intake as well as selling and pawning their possessions, were necessary to survive, given that only 36.7% of these families were covered by at least one social protection benefit.

ADB data showed these coping strategies have led to food insecurity and undernourishment. In the Philippines, ADB said undernourishment reached 9.7%, the highest in the ASEAN.

Also, 41.2% of the Philippines’ total population experienced moderate or severe food insecurity—the second highest after Cambodia’s 44.1%.

ADB estimated that in the region, about 36% of households with financial difficulties decided to skip meals or reduce their food intake.

Data showed 30.4% of these households reduced their consumption of non-essential goods and services; 27.4% declined their non-essential daily expenditure; 25.9% cut their expenses for going out; and 25.4% slashed their utilities spending.

Based on ADB’s survey data from eight developing countries from Asean, including the Philippines, 54.9% of households reported financial difficulty.

Of these households, 83.3% reduced their consumption or expenditures; 49.6% used their cash and savings; 38.4% borrowed money from friends and relatives; 35.4% deferred their payments and debt reimbursements; and 33.7% applied for social or government aid.

Regional data also showed 20% of these households had to craft self-homemade food or items to sell online; 18.2% sold or pawned properties; 14.5% borrowed funds from money lenders; 14.2% borrowed from commercial and policy banks; 13.8% sold merchandise stock at low prices; 12.9% borrowed from microfinance institutions; and 1.6% said they could not take action as the lockdown was imposed.

The pandemic pushed 75 million to 80 million more people in developing Asia into extreme poverty as of last year, compared with what would have happened without COVID-19.

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