MANILA, Philippines— In the Philippines, poverty is most severe and prevalent in rural areas— nearly 80 percent of the impoverished population lives there. In total, just over a third of the entire Philippines population lives in poverty. Between the rural and urban areas, the poverty gap is widening and there are significant dissimilarities in the levels of poverty between different regions.
Most poor rural people can only make a living from agriculture, or more specifically, fishing and subsistence farming. The people living in the highland areas, as well as the indigenous people, are generally the ones that suffer from unemployment, illiteracy and poverty. People in the highland areas of the Cordillera and Mindanao Island are the poorest in the country and the indigenous live in extremely delicate ecosystems.
There are multiple reasons that poverty is so prevalent in the Philippines, but it varies depending on the region. Some of the major causes are the reductions in farm sizes, unsustainable practices leading to exhausted fishing waters and deforestation, and a sharp decline in profitability and productivity of farming.
There are high levels of underemployment in rural areas because they have not developed economically due to their lack of valuable assets and limited access to business prospects. There are virtually no ways for the rural poor to produce income outside of the agricultural industry and they don’t have the opportunity to acquire affordable credit.
Fishermen are not catching as many fish and they do not have the means to do other types of jobs because they have no other skills. Women have tremendously limited opportunities for work outside of their family duties. Much of the native population is illiterate and is forced to deal with globalization, which is suffocating their customs and traditions.
It has been over 100 days since Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines and there are still millions of people living without shelter. These survivors were people that were already living in poverty and did not have shelter that could withstand the typhoon. The typhoon rampaged through the central islands on the 8th of November and killed around 6,200 people— there are over 2,000 that have still not been found. It destroyed everything in its path, including 1.1 million houses that housed over 4 million people. Millions of jobs were also wrecked after Typhoon Haiyan destroyed 30,000 fishing vessels, completely flooded farmlands, and tore down around 33 million coconut trees.
In response to the devastation in the Philippines, FIFA – allied with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) – have been playing charity soccer games for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan. FIFA has promised to aid the Philippines and the FIFA Finance Committee has confirmed a grant of $1 million towards rebuilding the country. A FIFA delegation went to the site of the disaster to evaluate how much damage there was and they have set objectives to open at least 20 new clinics to help the children that have been devastated by the disaster before the year’s end.
– Kenneth W. Kliesner
Sources: ABC, Rural Poverty Portal, FIFA
Photo: Dark Room