Three out of ten Brazilian households should not have sufficient entry to meals and go hungry
A greater proportion of those facing food insecurity are in the North and Northeast of the country; in absolute numbers, the Southeast is the most affected region, according to a study.
Three out of ten Brazilian families face some level of food shortage and go hungry. This is what a study by the Brazilian Research Network on Food Sovereignty and Security (PENSSAN) shows, released this Wednesday (14th). In absolute numbers, there are 125.2 million in food insecurity.
The largest proportion of families in this situation is in the North and Northeast regions of the country. alagoas it is the state in which cases of severe food insecurity are more frequent, affecting 36.7% of the surveyed families.
Second, comes the amapá, with 32% of households in this situation. Following are Pará and Sergipe, both with 30% of the affected population.
“The results reflect the regional inequalities recorded in the II VIGISAN report, and show substantial differences between the states of each macro-region of the country”, points out, in a note, the coordinator of the Penssan Network, Renato Maluf.
“They are not homogeneous spaces from the point of view of living conditions. There are socioeconomic differences in the regions that call for public policies aimed at each state that compose them”, he adds.
Despite proportionally reaching the North and Northeast regions, the highest concentration of people who are hungry in absolute numbers is in the Southeast, the most populous region of the country.
The data are mainly pulled by São Paulo, with 6.8 million people in severe food insecurity, and by Rio de Janeiro, with 2.7 million in the same situation.
Considering the entire population in food insecurity (mild, moderate or severe), São Paulo also leads, with 26 million, followed by Minas Gerais, with 11.2 million.
The researchers went from house to house from November of last year to April of this year. They visited 12,745 households in 577 cities, in all states of the country and in the Federal District.
Income and indebtedness
In addition to the large number of people affected by hunger, the researchers found that the problem worsened after the pandemic, with a drop in family income and an increase in the cost of living.
According to the survey, families with incomes of less than half the minimum wage per person are more prone to moderate and severe food insecurity.
This insecurity is verified, among households with this income profile:
- Acre: in 65% of households
- Pará: 67.6%
- Maranhao: 72.0%
- Sergipe: 76.5%
- Piauí: 66.1%
- Ceará: 65.2%
- Rio de Janeiro: 61%
- São Paulo: 58.4%
- Santa Catarina: 65.7%
- Rio Grande do Sul: 64.4%
- Federal District: 63.9%
Rosana Salles, a professor at the UFRJ Institute of Nutrition and a researcher at the Penssan Network, points out that a significant portion of the population with an income of up to half a minimum wage was not covered by Auxílio Brasil.
“It is a part of the population that already suffers from food insecurity. The current public policy leaves out families that would be socially eligible to receive an income, and that are in high food vulnerability”, he comments in a note.
The research also points out that income, which has already proved to be insufficient for basic needs, needs to be dedicated, too, to debt costs.
In most Northeastern states, at least 45% of families are in debt – in Alagoas this rate reaches 57.5%. The numbers are also alarming in Amazonas (52.6%) and in the Federal District (55.6%).
“Even families that receive Auxílio Brasil, because they are in debt, cannot use it only to buy food. The resource needs to be used to pay for other basic needs, such as rent, transport, electricity and water”, adds Ana Maria Segall, researcher at Rede Penssan and Fiocruz.
What is food insecurity?
The concept of food insecurity was divided by the study into three levels:
- Light: when there is concern or uncertainty about whether to get food in the future;
- Moderate: when there is a concrete reduction in the amount of food and the healthy eating pattern is broken by lack of food;
- Serious: when the family feels hungry and does not eat for lack of money.
Considering the national scope, severe food insecurity affects 15.5% of families, while moderate food insecurity affects 15.2%.