More than half of the Philippines’ 100 million people live in rural areas, and more than a third of them are poor. Agriculture is the primary source of income for poor rural people, and the only source for many of the poorest households. Most of them depend on subsistence farming and fishing for their livelihoods. Illiteracy, unemployment and the incidence of poverty are generally higher among indigenous peoples and those living in upland and coastal areas.
Poverty levels vary substantially between regions and provinces, and the poverty gap between urban and rural areas is widening. Indigenous people living in highly fragile and vulnerable ecosystems in the uplands and highlands of Mindanao and the Cordilleras are among the poorest in the country, along with farmers and fishers in disaster-prone coastal areas and areas affected by conflict on Mindanao Island.
Overall, 25 per cent of people in the Philippines are poor. The incidence of poverty is much higher among rural inhabitants (36 per cent) compared to urban residents (13 per cent).
Although the causes of poverty in rural areas vary widely from island to island, common drivers include a decline in agricultural productivity, unprofitable smallholder farming operations and unsustainable practices, which have led to deforestation and depleted fish stocks.
Rural areas lag in economic growth and have higher rates of underemployment. This is partly due to their lack of access to productive capital, knowledge and technology, and to limited market access. Rural poor people also have few options for generating off-farm income and lack access to affordable financial services.
In the Philippines, IFAD is working to enable poor rural people to improve their incomes and food security and provide better food, education and health care for their families.
Our strategy focuses on the poorest groups of rural people. It concentrates especially on women and indigenous peoples living in highly fragile and vulnerable ecosystems, coastal fishers and other poor smallholders and landless people.
IFAD-supported programmes and projects aim to improve access to markets, technology and rural financial services. They also work to improve management of natural resources and the environment and provide sustainable access to land and water resources.
Key innovative features of IFAD-supported activities in the Philippines include securing access to land in ancestral domains for indigenous peoples and documenting customary laws and traditional practices.
Projects also incorporate improved techniques for managing soil and water. In addition they provide support for fishing communities in coastal resource management and environmental protection practices.
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More than half of the Philippines’ 113 million people live in rural areas, and 36 per cent of them are poor, dependent on agriculture as their primary and often only source of income.
Since 1978, IFAD has committed US$243.7 million to finance 15 projects and programmes related to agricultural development in the Philippines, benefiting 1,742,000 households.