ASSESSING DEMOGRAPHIC VULNERABILITIES OF COMMUNITIES TO COVID-19 INFECTION
(Factoring Population Density of Barangays in the Philippines)
The outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) has been reported worldwide and has affected a total of 220 countries and territories as of May 17, 2021. In the Philippines, the effect of the pandemic has altered the way of life of every Filipino and has challenged the National and Local Government Units (LGUs) in the implementation of plans and programs as economic activities has been severely affected and every Filipino is continuously adapting to the “New Normal.”
Overall, it is generally believed that no country was fully prepared to handle a pandemic, particularly one at the magnitude of the COVID-19.
Covid-19 had a unique ability to spread from asymptomatic people prior to the onset of symptoms, combined with its long incubation time, which makes it difficult for countries to prevent the spread of this disease. (Cuffari, 2021).
As the rate in the spread of the COVID-19 infection, morbidity, and mortality varies from the demographic condition, public health interventions, and safety protocols; numerous interventions such as community resistance to outbreak mitigation efforts including travel restrictions, use of face masks in public, and social/physical distancing, and hospital transmission rates were all considered to control and mitigate the spread of the virus.
Apart from this, the COVID-19 vaccination program through the National Vaccine Deployment Plan in the country is currently in its roll-out which is considered to be one of the most important developments in the fight against the prevention of severe COVID cases thereby reducing deaths caused by the severe effects of the virus and preventing symptoms from occurring thereby reducing transmission (The Philippine Natl. Deployment and Vaccination Plan for COVID-19 Vaccines, January 2021).
Within this context, the Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM) in line with its Assessment of Demographic Vulnerabilities of Communities to COVID-19 Infection proposes to include Population Density of Barangays in the Philippines to facilitate categorization and prioritization in the provision of mitigation (prevent, diagnose, track and isolate), assistance and support services to areas that will fall under the different classifications of barangays by population density.
This paper provides initial concepts on how to integrate and use the demographic data in relevant planning activities. As a working and evolving document, it shall be updated based on emerging patterns and trends on demographic indicators as well as on health situations in various localities.
The Population Density of Barangays in the Philippines primarily takes into consideration the amount of space (living and common area) an individual is provided for which has an implication on the ability of the person to conduct “social or physical distancing” which is one of the precautionary measures being promoted and implemented around the world as part of the minimum health protocol to combat COVID-19.
As evidenced by the initial data in the country, confirmed cases of COVID-19 infections were high in urban areas such as Metro Manila. Given this, it can be considered that the risk of infection can be expected to be higher where there are very high densities whether in residences or clusters of housing units, transportation hubs and conveyances or workplaces.
In the Philippines, there is no standard on the number of square meters that should be allotted per person based on PD No. 1096 Adopting A National Building Code of the Philippines (NBCP) thereby Revising RA No. 6541. Section 806 only mentions the minimum sizes of rooms and their least horizontal dimensions, whereas for Japan a 25 square meters
per person is the minimum and recommended (ideal) amount of living space that a person should have to have a “healthy and culturally fulfilling life” (Residential Living Area Standard Guidelines Issued by Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure) and for United Kingdom it is between 37-44 square meters per person (ODPM 2003a).
As such the following were taken into consideration in the Population Density of Barangays in the Philippines:
- Common area is defined as areas available for use by more than one person (corridors, stairways, parking lots, parks, recreational areas, etc.);
- Living space is defined as the amount of space a person may live in; a structure for living, sleeping, eating, or cooking;
- Living space is at 15 sqm with a 35 sqm common area;
- Acceptable Density is based on 50sqm/person = 200 persons per hectare;
- Density is classified into: Low density is 1-100 persons/hectare; Medium is 101-200 persons/ hectare; High is 201-999 persons/hectare and Very High is 1000 persons/hectare or higher;
- Percent coverage of barangay data is at 83.60% (does not include barangays in the City of Manila, just over 50% of Region I and under 50% of Regions 7 and 8);
- Presentations and statistical analysis are limited to demographics only; and
- Data on the land area in square kilometers were sourced from the Technical Services and Mapping Division of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
POPCOM enhanced its existing Demographic Vulnerability Tool (DVT) to include population density of barangays as a fourth parameter to demographic vulnerability. It has also included a column for percent case fatality and infection rate with a guide on how to compute for the mentioned indicators.
The tables for the Population Density of Barangays in the Philippines are categorized into fifteen (15) columns for the purpose of analysis and to be used for planning activities. The classification of barangays as well as the population census were based on the 2015 Census of Population. The projected population for 2021was based on the 2015 based population projections. The data on the land area was provided by the Technical Services and Mapping Division of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). The data under COVID cases came from the DOH Data Drop as of April 15, 2021.
A. Column on Region, Province, City/Municipality, Barangay, and Code
- Based from the Philippine Standard Geographic Code
- The total in the Excel Row Headings do not tally with the PSGC summary due to the special codes assigned to the following quasi-geographic political units/areas:
- The total number of provinces in the PSGC excludes the four (4) districts of National Capital Region which have been assigned special Province Codes pursuant to Presidential Decree No. 921.
- The Cities of Isabela and Cotabato are assigned special Province Codes to show that they are not administratively part of ARMM but part of Region IX (Zamboanga Peninsula) and Region XII (SOCCSKSARGEN) respectively.
- The study used pre-BARMM PSGC codes in accordance to the data of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). As of March 31, 2021, PSA is still using ARMM (Code: 150000000) with 2,490 barangays. This is in pursuant to RA No. 10625 which mandates PSA to prescribe uniform standards and classification system in the generation of government statistics to ensure harmonization and comparability of statistics in the country and at the international level.
- The sub-municipalities of the City of Manila – Tondo I/II, Binondo, Quiapo, etc., are assigned special municipal codes but not officially considered municipalities.
B. Column on Urban/Rural
- Only barangays have urban/rural classification
- Based on 2015 Census of Population (POPCEN)
- Based on New Definition, barangays in NCR are entirely urban.
- The following are the categories used for classifying the urban barangays:
Category 1 Refers to barangays with population size of 5,000 or more.
Category 2 Refers to barangay with at least one establishment with a minimum of 100 employees
Category 3 Refers to barangays with 5 or more establishments with 10 to 99 employees, and five or more facilities within the two-kilometer radius from the barangay hall.
C. Column on Population
- Based on the 2015 Census of Population
- Population counts will not add up to the national total count. The count includes 2,134 Filipinos in the Philippine Embassies, Consulates and Missions Abroad
- including the population count of Barangay Kalaw and Barangay Quibel;
- including the population count of Barangay Rizal which was transferred to Municipality of Panukulan;
- excluding the population count of Barangay Rizal which was only transferred in the 1Q of 2018 from Municipality of Burdeos;
- including the population count of Barangay Naibuan which was created in 1Q of 2018;
- including the population count of Barangay NBBS Dagat-dagatan and Barangay NBBS Proper;
- including the population count of Barangay Tangos North;
- including the population count of Barangay Tanza 2;
- including the population count of newly created Barangay Madilay-dilay; and
- including the population count of newly created Barangay Lacnog West and barangays transferred to BARMM are still included in the ARMM area.
D. Column on Projected Population
- Region and Province population projection is based from the 2015-Based Population Projection
- Municipal and barangay projected population counts is calculated using ratio and proportion using the official provincial-level projected population from the 2015 Census-Based Population Projections
E. Column on Land Area
- Regional, provincial, and city/municipal land area is based on the cadastral survey and estimated land areas (certified and provided to the Department of Budget and Management) from the Land Management Bureau, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, as of December 2013
- Data on the land area in square kilometers provided to POPCOM Regional Offices by the Technical Services and Mapping Division of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)
F. Column on Projected Barangay Population Density per Hectare
To have a clear picture on the density at the barangay level, the density is computed to persons per hectare.
G. Column on Density Classification
- Density is classified into:
- Low density is 1-100 persons/hectare;
- Medium is 101-200 persons/ hectare;
- High is 201-999 persons/hectare; and
- Very High is 1000 persons/hectare or higher.
H. Column on Demographic Vulnerability
- Demographic Vulnerability is based on three conditions
- Depending on the combinations of the three conditions, vulnerability is classified into Low, Medium, High, and Extreme.
- Persons living in a housing unit 20 sqm and below, and more than 4 household members;
- Total number of persons 60 years old and over living in the area of a housing unit greater than 20; and
- Total number of persons 60 years old and over living alone in the area of a housing unit greater than 10.
I. Column on Covid Cases and Infection Rate
- This group of columns tallies the number of deaths, active cases and total number of persons infected by Covid as of 15 April 2021. Infection rate is computed by dividing the total number of cases by the population and multiplying it by 100.
- Details will not be equal to total as tallies at the barangay level was only included starting September 2020.
- Percent fatality rate is computed as number of deaths per total number of cases per area, multiplied to 100.
The following finding were consolidated based on the data gathered per region:
- 63.4% (22,296/35,149) of classified barangays reported COVID cases between September 2020 and April 15 2021
- 11.48% (4,037/35,149) of classified barangays reported COVID deaths in same period
- 36.27% (15,252/42,046) of all barangays nationwide reported no COVID cases
- 397,726 cases in 20,889 Low and Medium Density barangays = 19.03 cases /barangay
- 187,356 cases in 1407 High and Very High-Density barangay = 133.15 cases/barangay
- 6,186 deaths in 3348 Low/Medium Density barangay = 1.84 deaths /barangay
- 2,107 deaths in 689 High/Very High-Density barangay = 3.05 deaths/barangay
Highest averages seen in High Density Barangays
- 174,794 cases in 1,272 High Density barangays = 137.41 cases/barangay
- 1,941 deaths in 578 High Density barangays = 3.38 deaths /barangay
- Mitigation Strategies:
- Mobilization of the creation of composite teams in high and very high-density barangays reporting cases and deaths
- Improve access to hospital care in low density barangays reporting deaths to mitigate COVID-19 deaths
- Recovery Strategy:
- Prioritize vaccinations in high and very high-density barangays reporting cases and deaths
- Strengthen Family Planning demand generation activities in all barangays reporting cases and deaths