Resilience to Food Insecurity: Coping Strategies of the Elderly in BASECO Compound, Tondo, Manila

Ablaza, Bernadine Therese Jimenez (2016). 'Resilience to Food Insecurity: Coping Strategies of the Elderly in BASECO Compound, Tondo, Manila' Paper presented at the annual conference of the HDCA, Tokyo 2016.

Food insecurity is defined as the limited access to food (Bombay Urban Industrial League for Development, 2010). It is also indicated by anxiety regarding food source, reduced food quality, as well as the presence of food gained through socially unacceptable means (Bombay Urban Industrial League for Development, 2010).  Food insecurity is caused by factors such as extreme food price increase (Tawodzera, 2011) as well as poverty (Woolverton, Regmi, & Tutwiller, 2010; Bartfeld & David, 2003). Food insecurity is most evident in slum areas because slum dwellers possess low economic and human capital that disable and hinder them from fully addressing this problem. This problem is most evident in the slum areas also for the reason that these areas suffer from exclusive growth, thus become food desert tracts. Food desert tracts are areas that contain limited access to affordable, nutritious food. Given that the problem on food insecurity is a threat to human survival, people’s instinct is to devise strategies to address it. This paper shall give insight on how the elderly in a slum community address the problem of food insecurity.
This study focuses on the coping strategies employed by the elderly of BASECO Compound, Tondo, Manila in terms of combating food insecurity. Specifically, this paper aims to: (a) contextualize the elderly’s need to employ food security strategies in BASECO (b) enumerate the preferred food security strategies of the elderly in BASECO, (c) identify the accessibility of these food security strategies (d) explore how aging affects the accessibility to food security strategies, and (e) determine the food security strategies that are accessible to men and women.
This study employs a qualitative research design, using key techniques of field note-taking, in-depth interviews and participant observation among 100 elderly. Purposive sampling was used to select informants using the following criteria: a) is at least 60 years of age, b) is self-declared food insecure, and c) has agreed to the informed consent form of the study. Both male and female were included to allow for a comparison in their responses. The research was conducted in an urban slum community, specifically BASECO Compound, Tondo, Manila. The data was transcribed using Express Scribe and was close coded using the MAXQDA Software.                                                                                                                                                            Results/Outcome
BASECO Compound experiences exclusive growth, thus the lack of economic opportunities that would sustain access to nutritious food. Therefore, there is a high need to employ coping strategies in order to survive hunger and food insecurity in the slum community. The informants of the study narrated about skipping meals, reliance on children for food, use of food/money loans, reduction of food quantity and consumption of food with less quality. On an extreme level, informants reported that there are BASECO dwellers who steal live chicken from their neighbors and who engage in the business of selling drugs just to combat food insecurity.
Conclusion/Significance/Contribution to the Field
Aging poses challenges such as low mobility and low income that make it twice as hard to address food insecurity (Wolfe, Olson, Kendall & Frongillo, 1998). Given this, it is insightful to explore how the elderly practice their agency, despite its limitations, in order to survive. Undertaking this study may serve as the basis for future food programs and policies of the Philippine government.

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