Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles on Tuesday confirmed that the heads of various government agencies have agreed to the provisions of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that formalizes their respective roles in the Enhanced Partnership Against Hunger and Poverty (EPAHP), an initiative the Palace official said would help the Philippines eventually say #GoodbyeGutom.

“The hashtag captures what we want to accomplish with the EPAHP; we want to align different government programs and projects with the end in view of bidding farewell to hunger, malnutrition, and its detrimental effects on our people––especially young children,” said Nograles, who has been designated Chairperson of the EPAHP Steering Committee.

“With the approval of the EPAHP MOU, we believe we are taking a significant step toward achieving this goal.”

The MOU––concurred with by agency heads during the latest Cabinet Meeting held on October 16––states that the goal of the EPAHP “is to help mitigate hunger, ensure food and nutrition security, and reduce poverty in urban and rural communities, including marginalized communities.” 

The MOU further states that the EPAHP “is intended to contribute to the national government efforts in addressing hunger and poverty through the synergy and convergence of essential services of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), Department of Agriculture (DA), the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Education (DepEd), Department of Health (DOH), Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC), National Irrigation Administration (NIA), and Landbank, and directly benefiting the poorer sector of the country.”

Other agencies to be tapped in the initiative are the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and Commission on Population (POPCOM). 

The former Davao representative explained that the Cabinet approved the program’s MOU in time for the commemoration of the World Food Day this year which seeks to raise awareness about world hunger and malnutrition.

“The overarching goal here is to ensure that all these programs tie-up with other government food and nutrition programs.”

“The objectives of World Food Day––zero hunger by 2030––are mirrored by government initiatives that are focused on eliminating hunger within the same time frame. With the approval of the EPAHP MOU, we believe we are taking a significant step toward achieving this goal,” stressed the Cabinet Secretary.

Nograles pointed out that in 2018, 2.4 million families had experienced moderate to extreme hunger, 13.7 million Filipino children are undernourished, and a fifth of Filipinos five and younger are underweight.

According to the Palace executive, “the numbers are considerable but we have government programs in place to address these. For example, these include DSWD Supplementary Feeding Programs, DILG feeding programs for Persons Deprived of Liberty, DepEd School-Based Feeding Programs, and DOH Early Childhood Care and Development programs.”

“The overarching goal here is to ensure that all these programs tie-up with other government food and nutrition programs so that they are more efficient and are maximized. These feeding programs, for example, should source their produce and food items from local farmers, and the DA can facilitate that. This is just one of many ways EPAHP utilizes a whole-of-nation approach to beat hunger.”

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