Hunger in Brazil Part 1
The hunger is the food shortages that usually affects a wide expanse of territory and a substantial number of people.
Around 100 million people worldwide are homeless; there are 1 billion illiterates; 1.1 billion people live in poverty, of which 630 million are extremely poor, with annual per capita income well below $ 275; 1.5 billion people without drinking water; 1 billion people going hungry; 150 million malnourished children under the age of 5 (one for every three in the world); 12.9 million children die each year before they are 5 years old.
Causes of hunger
In Brazil, the richest 10% hold almost all national income.
The natural causes to justify hunger are: climate; dry; floods; earthquakes; ss insect pests and plant diseases.
And we can still count on human causes such as:
- political instability;
- inefficiency and mismanagement of natural resources;
- civil conflicts;
- the difficult access to the means of production by rural workers, the landless or the population in general;
- poor agricultural planning;
- the unfair and anti-democratic landtenure structure in Brazil , marked by the concentration of land ownership in the hands of a few;
- the contrast in the concentration of income and land in an underdeveloped world;
- the influence of food transnationals on agricultural production and eating habits of Third World populations;
- the use of “food diplomacy” as a weapon in relations between countries;
- the relationship between the Third World external debt and the steadily increasing deterioration of its food level and the relationship between culture and food.
Hunger – the national tragedy
A tragedy with drops, dispersed, silent, hidden in the corners and in the peripheries. So hidden that the Brazil that eats does not see Brazil starving and then hunger becomes just a number, statistics, as if the number did not bring with it dramas, stories, names.
In the inversion of the life cycle, prowess is a living child, a recently buried baby, a trivial event. In Brazil, every five minutes, a child dies . Most diseases of hunger. About 280 to 290 a day. This would correspond, according to Unicef, to two Boeing 737s of children killed per day.
Physician, volunteer in campaigns against malnutrition and obsessed with numbers, Flávio Valente researched official data. There are at least 36 million Brazilians who never know when they will have their next meal, our biggest contradiction.
Renowned researchers, specialist in nutrition, more than 30 years investigating the deficiencies of the Brazilian diet. “We have a deficiency of iodine, zinc, folic acid”, says dr. Malachi. It is to hit the eye to know. A girl may be iron deficient. A disease that affects up to 47% of children, including in wealthy states, such as São Paulo.
Vitamin A deficiency stops the growth of entire families. “In this area, we have about 18% of children with stunting. When the child is delayed due to lack of vitamins, this delay is practically irreversible. The height tells practically the whole nutritional history of the child ”, explains the doctor.
Combating Hunger and the Human Right to Feed
The seriousness of the situation of misery of a large part of the Brazilian population requires that the insistent attempts by the elites to mitigate the problem are vehemently repudiated. Brazilian society no longer accepts demagogic speeches that seek to circumscribe poverty to specific situations and localities, and then offer electoral solutions. Just as electoral assistance is to be rejected, so too is technocratic economism, which is also mystifying.
It is now more than evident that economic growth, however important it may be, is absolutely insufficient to end poverty in the country. Likewise, macroeconomic balance and currency stabilization produce, at most, mitigating and temporary effects, without changing the situation of social inequality .
Any attempt, minimally serious, to tackle the problems of hunger and poverty must consider its deepest causes: the exacerbated concentration of wealth in the country. This diagnosis necessarily points to the urgency of a broad process of redistribution of national wealth. And this is, of course, not a task that can be “left” to the market. On the contrary, international experience shows that the problem of poverty and inequality can only be solved with the firm and planned action of the State.
Public policies to combat hunger and poverty should not, therefore, be restricted to “offsetting” the effects of a concentrated economic model. One must break with the artificial separation of the so-called economic and social “areas”. The social “area” cannot be expected to solve the problem of poverty while economic policy continues to promote exclusion. Even more so if we consider that the current government has not guided any effective program that can lead to a true National Food Security Policy. In addition, in the absence of a more articulated social project, the government’s social policies are conceived in a fragmented way and implemented in a disjointed way.
We believe that policies to combat hunger and poverty and promote food security, should be thought of as part of an alternative development project, which has as its central axis the promotion of a growing process of social inclusion. Therefore, the fight against hunger and poverty necessarily implies a broad and sustainable process of distribution of wealth, which, in general, should translate into:
Income distribution: Employment and income generation policies, recovery of the purchasing power of wages (especially the minimum wage), comprehensive minimum income programs, etc.
Agrarian reform: accelerating the agrarian reform process (with the settlement of all landless families) and expanding policies to support family farming.
Access to productive resources: in addition to land, access to water, seeds, rural production credits, urban self-management credits in an unbureaucratic and effective way is extremely urgent.
We believe that these should be the guiding principles for building a project to fight hunger and poverty and promote food security. With the reduction of inequalities as a basic and non-negotiable principle, it is possible to start a broad process of discussion in organized society in order to identify the most appropriate policies and instruments to put an end to hunger and misery in the country and guarantee to all Brazilians the realization of their right to food.
The social programs that have been instituted in recent years, aim to alleviate the problem of hunger and misery. The “Zero Hunger”, a girl in the eyes of the Lula government , follows the same path. However, softening is not what we want. The Brazilian people want and demand a real war against hunger and misery, which necessarily goes through structural and profound changes in the social organization and mentality of the national elite.
Luís Inácio Lula da Silva’s government demonstrated political will and willingness to fight hunger and misery. However, goodwill and willingness alone are not enough to solve the problem of millions of families who suffer from hunger every day. As Betinho said, “Those who are hungry are in a hurry”. He is in a hurry for food, citizenship, justice and rights. Satisfying these hungers requires more than money and social policies. It demands a break with the applied economic model, with determination and precision, in the last 15 years, in Brazil.
Brazil is not a poor country. It is a very rich country. Rich in production and nature itself. But it is an unequal and unjust country, with a sea of poor and miserable that surround islands of accumulation, luxury and waste. Inequality is the only issue that has remained stable throughout Brazilian history. This reality results from the intense lack of equity in the distribution of income and the opportunities for social and economic inclusion. It is not enough to insist only on economic growth to eradicate hunger. Combating hunger and poverty is an ethical requirement. Efficient and effective measures are needed in the implementation of policies for the generation of greater equality in access to food and for full citizenship.