Some facts about the Philippines
|Playing the guitar - photo: C. Häfeli|
The Republic of the Philippines is a group of more than 7,100 islands that are part of the Malay Archipelago in the western Pacific Ocean. The Philippines are in the region which sees the most cyclonic activity in the world, the country is also prone to earthquakes and there are around 20 active volcanoes on the islands.
The Philippines has a population of over 101 million people (2011 est.). The capital city of Manila is home to 11.4 million. The country has one of the highest birth rates in Asia, and the population is growing fast.
An increasing number of people live in poverty
The people of the Philippines have experienced many social, political and economic changes in recent decades. Armed conflicts have also marked the lives of many; decades of fighting, much of which was against separatist groups and guerrillas, have claimed thousands of lives, displaced many more and curtailed opportunities for development.
In recent years, the economy has grown and gross domestic product increased by over seven per cent in 2010. Agriculture employs 33 per cent of the population. Industry has developed since the 1950s and 15 per cent of the population works in this sector. Around 52 per cent of the labour force is employed in the services. The official unemployment rate is 7.3 per cent, but the actual rate is believed to be higher, with widespread underemployment.
In spite of the positive economic developments, the changes have not reduced poverty, and over 33 per cent of the population continues to live under the nationally established poverty line. Given that the population is increasing, there has actually been a rise in the number of people living in poverty. In addition, the wealth created has been unequally distributed. The lack of opportunities means that many people are forced to move overseas: around ten million Filipinos work abroad. The money they send home makes an important contribution to the national economy; it is estimated that it accounts for at least ten per cent of gross domestic product.
The current hardships and grim prospects make people vulnerable to the false promises of human traffickers. The Philippines is a recognised source, transit and destination country for the cross-border trafficking of women and children for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labour.
Situation of the children in the Philippines
Over 37 million children are under the age of 18 in the Philippines. Government policies have improved the lives of children; since 1990, child mortality rate has fallen from 80 to 26.7 per 1,000 live births.
|Dancing lesson - photo: A. Kumar|
However, overall, Filipino children continue to face many difficulties. Tens of thousands of children are displaced by armed conflict and affected by natural disasters every year. In addition, the stresses of poverty have often led to a loss of parental care. About 12 per cent of children between the ages of five and 14 are forced to work. Most are found in rural areas, where they labour on family farms, commercial plantations, forestry and the fishing industry. With one in every four children reporting to work through the night, it is no surprise that they struggle to keep up with their schooling.
An estimated quarter of a million children live on the streets of the major Philippine cities - they sell newspapers, shine shoes, scavenge for recyclable material, and are involved in drug pushing and prostitution.
The migration of parents in search of work has also affected children's lives. Children, who move with their parents to the cities, often end up living in informal settlements where they lack decent housing, food, sanitation facilities and potable water. UNICEF estimates that around 1.7 million children live in these poor conditions in Metro Manila alone.
SOS Children's Villages in the Philippines
The natural disasters, armed conflicts and political instability which the people of the Philippines have endured have led to an increase in the work of SOS Children's Villages over the past decades. The programmes developed by our organisation have responded to the needs of the local children, young people and families.
For example, it has become increasingly clear that investment in prevention work at the family and community level is vital. Through the family-strengthening programmes, the SOS Social Centres have provided support to many households in the community. Working with local agencies, the programmes run day-care centres where young children can be cared for. Depending on what is needed most in the area, counselling services for family members and nutrition programmes may also be offered.
When children can no longer stay with their families, they are cared for by their SOS mothers in one of the SOS families. Young adults are given care and guidance by professionals so that they can learn to live a successful independent life.