Five months into a series of community quarantines, a study has found food security, education, and healthcare as the top problems of Filipino families amid the Covid-19 pandemic. 

According to the study conducted by humanitarian agency World Vision, livelihood for 92 percent of households has been disrupted, while 61 percent were either fully or severely hit by the pandemic. 

“[D]aily wage workers are the hardest hit. Notably, 71 percent have reported loss of jobs or reduction of income, further affecting the poor families’ capacity to meet basic needs,” World Vision said. 

World Vision obtained the results from a “rapid assessment” conducted from May 16 to June 6, with 985 respondents from 42 towns and six cities in 20 provinces.

Since the pandemic has caused the unemployment rate to spike to 17.7 percent, the highest since 2005, those who lost their jobs have resorted to borrowing money, using their own savings, or reducing the quality and quantity of their meals to survive. 

World Vision reported a decrease of 34 percent in the average food expenses of families during the quarantine period, with 68 percent of families unable to meet the ideal minimum spending of P2,200 per week set by Food and Nutrition Research Institute. 

The agency also noted a widening gap in basic healthcare access, which affected not only adults but also children.

“[O]nly 25 percent of the household survey respondents were able to meet the health care and medical expenses of household members, including children. COVID-19 is also triggering mental health issues with 6 percent of the surveyed households reporting severe stress,” World Vision said. 

Education is also one of the hardest hit sectors during the pandemic. World Vision’s study showed that 89 percent of children are anticipating challenges in the distance learning mode proposed by the Department of Education (DepEd). 

Among the top concerns of parents are internet connection, gadget availability, and the effectiveness of online platforms. 

Twenty one percent of children are either unwilling or unsure to attend the blended learning mode of classes, which start on August 24, while 38 percent of the respondents do not have access to the internet. 

DepEd on August 10 held a virtual launch of its “Handang Isip, Handa Bukas,” which was supposed to showcase the different distance learning approach formulated by the agency. It was, however, marred by technical difficulties and delays. Jayziel Khim Budino