Northern Samar, Sulu and Masbate are the "poorest" provinces in the Philippines, according to the National Poverty Map 2007 prepared by the Peace and Equity Foundation (PEF).
In a presentation last week during the World Bank-sponsored Panibagong Paraan '08, PEF said the three provinces had the "most pronounced conditions of poverty" among the Philippines' 81 provinces.
PEF ranked the provinces according to its PEF Development Index, which is based on various government poverty indicators, including the lack of housing, lack of access to clean water, sanitation facilities, incidence of malnutrition and income level.
Following Northern Samar, Sulu and Masbate at the low end of the PEF Development Index were Basilan, Western Samar, Tawi-Tawi, Maguindanao, Sarangani, Zamboanga del Norte and Negros Oriental.
In terms of poverty incidence, Zamboanga del Norte topped the list with 64.6 percent of families living below the poverty level, according to the latest 2003 government figures.
Following Zamboanga del Norte are Maguindanao (60.4 percent), Masbate (55.9 percent), Surigao del Norte (54.5 percent) and Agusan del Sur (52.8 percent).
In the area of sanitation, Tawi-Tawi was worst off with only 46.9 percent of the households having access to a toilet.
Also lacking in terms of sanitation are Masbate, Samar, Basilan, Northern Samar, Sarangani, Sorsogon, Negros Oriental, Negros Occidental and Cebu.
PEF started its poverty scanning program in 2003 to identify priority areas for its poverty reduction program. Inquirer