Integrated provincial nutrition programs toward food security

At least 60 percent of Filipino households are experiencing moderate to severe food insecurity amid the pandemic, a 2020 Food and Nutrition Research Institute survey showed. The first 1,000 days (F1KD) population proved to be most at risk, with reported higher food insecurity among households with pregnant women and children (including those below two years).

To address food insecurity in their communities, the provincial governments of Zamboanga del Norte, Northern Samar, and Samar under the Provincial Nutrition Governance Program (PNGP) increased their budget allocation and utilization for integrated health and nutrition programs.

PNGP, a partnership between the Zuellig Family Foundation and the United Nations Children’s Fund, aims to have a comprehensive and integrated nutrition program wherein health and nutrition sectors work with other agencies, including education, agriculture, and social welfare.

Ground-level efforts
In an online executive session titled “Deepening Leadership: Sustaining Gains and Managing Change for F1KD” last July 21, Zamboanga del Norte shared its Enhanced Gasang Bahandianon para sa Umahan (eGBU), an anti-poverty program and social entrepreneurship project that integrates health and nutrition information, services, education, environment, and agriculture.

At the household level, the eGBU operates by distributing starter kits containing seeds, fertilizer, and basic planting equipment. Under this initiative, the participants learn farming, food processing, and marketing to have direct access to food and a source of sustainable income and livelihood.

Produce from the eGBU will also be used for the Bigas Monggo (BiMo) food packs, which will serve as supplementary food for children and pregnant women.

Meanwhile, the provincial government of Samar has an ongoing partnership with the Department of Science and Technology for complimentary food processing. It also plans to implement backyard farming.

Likewise, in Northern Samar, the local government plans to organize province-wide communal gardening to engage the community toward food security.