Despite the country's economic gains in recent years, the number of children living in poverty in the Philippines has continued to go up, according to a study released by state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) on Friday.
The PIDS study titled "Child Poverty in the Philippines" also warned that population growth, the lack of inclusivity of economic growth and the country's exposure to natural calamities will worsen child poverty in the next few years.
The PIDS said there were already about 13.4 million Filipino children living in poverty in 2009.
"This number represents 36 percent or more than one-third of all Filipino children aged below 18. Being poor, they suffer from deprivations of food, shelter, health and education," said Dr. Celia Reyes, PIDS senior research fellow and lead author of the study.
Reyes said around 10 million children of those living in poverty face at least two overlapping types of severe deprivation of basic amenities while an estimated 750,000 face at least five kinds of deprivation simultaneously.
The PIDS study said there were around 4 million children who did not have access to sanitary toilet facilities while 4 million did not have access to safe water. Another 260,000 kids did not have decent shelter.
"There were 1.4 million children living in informal settlements, 6.5 million did not have access to electricity in their homes, and 3.4 million did not have means to access information," Reyes said.
In the last 10 years, the study noted the percentage of students who were able to complete elementary and secondary levels has hardly improved.
"Largely because of poverty, 5.5 million children are forced to work in 2011 to augment family income. These children are unable to pursue their education and this affects their ability to find better work opportunities in the future," said Reyes.
PIDS said poverty in the country is largely a rural phenomenon. The study estimates that three out of four children from income poor families while eight of 10 who are severely deprived of safe water and sanitary toilet are found in rural areas.
Zamboanga Peninsula and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao in southern Philippines and Eastern Visayas in central Philippines were identified by the study as the regions where the condition of children is "dismal" in many aspects.