Education in European Union
European Union and UNICEF join forces against child malnutrition in the Philippines
By Guy Hubbard
POLANGUI, Philippines, 12 May 2014 – Mt. Mayon looms over the rice paddies of Polangui. The active volcano serves as a constant reminder that the fields sit deep in a ring of fire.
The Philippines is bombarded by typhoons, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, events that affect the lives of thousands, if not millions, of people every year.
That the country is prone to natural hazards is one reason the Philippines has one of the highest malnutrition rates in the region.
But it is not the only reason.
Pockets of poverty are pockets of undernutrition
In 2009, the Philippines was classified as a middle income country. Nevertheless, there are high levels of poverty, particularly in rural areas.
|© UNICEF Video|
|An initiative led by the Government and the European Union with support from UNICEF is empowering women to improve nutrition for themselves and their families.|
An overreliance on rice, low levels of breastfeeding and the recurring natural hazards, connected to and amplified by this poverty, means that children do not eat enough. Twenty-two per cent of children under 5 in the Philippines are underweight. Thirty-two per cent of children in the country are stunted.
Through a nutrition initiative targeting pregnant women and children under 5, UNICEF, the European Union and the Government of the Philippines are starting to make a difference.
A team of peer counsellors is formed
Eilile Onrubia is part of a team of peer counsellors in Napo Barangay, a rural rice-growing village in Polangui, not far from Legazpi. Under the leadership of the barangay chief, Ms. Onrubia and the team formed a nutrition council. The counsellors are charged with going door to door to talk to mothers and pregnant women about proper nutrition for themselves and their families. The main focus of the discussion is breastfeeding. The council meets once a month to share successes and challenges, before the counsellors return to their rounds.