Arquivo da tag: Fome

Ravaged by Covid, Brazil Faces a Hunger Epidemic (New York Times)

Tens of millions of Brazilians are facing hunger or food insecurity as the country’s Covid-19 crisis drags on, killing thousands of people every day.

Lining up for lunch outside a Catholic charity in São Paulo. The number of people going hungry has nearly doubled in Brazil recently.
Lining up for lunch outside a Catholic charity in São Paulo. The number of people going hungry has nearly doubled in Brazil recently.

By Ernesto Londoño and Flávia Milhorance

Photographs by Victor Moriyama

April 23, 2021, 5:00 a.m. ET

RIO DE JANEIRO — Rail-thin teenagers hold placards at traffic stops with the word for hunger — fome — in large print. Children, many of whom have been out of school for over a year, beg for food outside supermarkets and restaurants. Entire families huddle in flimsy encampments on sidewalks, asking for baby formula, crackers, anything.

A year into the pandemic, millions of Brazilians are going hungry.

The scenes, which have proliferated in the last months on Brazil’s streets, are stark evidence that President Jair Bolsonaro’s bet that he could protect the country’s economy by resisting public health policies intended to curb the virus has failed.

From the start of the outbreak, Brazil’s president has been skeptical of the disease’s impact, and scorned the guidance of health experts, arguing that the economic damage wrought by the lockdowns, business closures and mobility restrictions they recommended would be a bigger threat than the pandemic to the country’s weak economy.

That trade-off led to one of the world’s highest death tolls, but also foundered in its goal — to keep the country afloat.

The virus is ripping through the social fabric, setting wrenching records, while the worsening health crisis pushes businesses into bankruptcy, killing jobs and further hampering an economy that has grown little or not at all for more than six years.

Daniela dos Santos cooking a meal in downtown São Paulo. The pandemic aggravated Brazil’s economic crisis, increasing the rolls of the unemployed and the homeless.
Daniela dos Santos cooking a meal in downtown São Paulo. The pandemic aggravated Brazil’s economic crisis, increasing the rolls of the unemployed and the homeless.
Volunteers distributing sandwiches and soup.
Volunteers distributing sandwiches and soup.

Last year, emergency government cash payments helped put food on the table for millions of Brazilians — but when the money was scaled back sharply this year, with a debt crisis looming, many pantries were left bare.

About 19 million people have gone hungry over the past year — nearly twice the 10 million who did so in 2018, the most recent year for which data were available, according to the Brazilian government and a study of privation during the pandemic by a network of Brazilian researchers focused on the issue.

And about 117 million people, or roughly 55 percent of the country’s population, faced food insecurity, with uncertain access to enough nutrition, in 2020 — a leap from the 85 million who did so two years previous, the study showed.

“The way the government has handled the virus has deepened poverty and inequality,” said Douglas Belchior, the founder of UNEafro Brasil, one of a handful of organizations that have banded together to raise money to get food baskets to vulnerable communities. “Hunger is a serious and intractable problem in Brazil.”

Luana de Souza, 32, was one of several mothers who lined up outside an improvised food pantry on a recent afternoon hoping to score a sack with beans, rice and cooking oil. Her husband had worked for a company that organized events, but lost his job last year — one of eight million people who joined Brazil’s unemployment rolls during the pandemic, driving the rate above 14 percent, according to Brazil’s Institute of Geography and Statistics.

At first the family managed by spending their government assistance carefully, she said, but this year, once the payments were cut, they struggled.

“There is no work,” she said. “And the bills keep coming.”

Ismael dos Santos asks drivers for change at a traffic light.
Ismael dos Santos asks drivers for change at a traffic light.
Members of an evangelical church serving breakfast.
Members of an evangelical church serving breakfast.

Brazil’s economy had gone into recession in 2014, and had not recovered when the pandemic hit. Mr. Bolsonaro often invoked the reality of families like Ms. de Souza’s, who cannot afford to stay home without working, to argue that the type of lockdowns governments in Europe and other wealthy nations ordered to curb the spread of the virus were untenable in Brazil.

Last year, as governors and mayors around Brazil signed decrees shutting down nonessential businesses and restricting mobility, Mr. Bolsonaro called those measures “extreme” and warned that they would result in malnutrition.

The president also dismissed the threat of the virus, sowed doubts about vaccines, which his government has been slow to procure, and often encouraged crowds of supporters at political events.

As a second wave of cases this year led to the collapse of the health care system in several cities, local officials again imposed a raft of strict measures — and found themselves at war with Mr. Bolsonaro.

“People have to have freedom, the right to work,” he said last month, calling the new quarantine measures imposed by local governments tantamount to living in a “dictatorship.”

Early this month, as the daily death toll from the virus sometimes surpassed 4,000, Mr. Bolsonaro acknowledged the severity of the humanitarian crisis facing his country. But he took no responsibility and instead faulted local officials.

“Brazil is at the limit,” he said, arguing that the blame lay with “whoever closed everything.”

But economists said that the argument that restrictions intended to control the virus would worsen Brazil’s economic downturn was “a false dilemma.”

In an open letter addressed to Brazilian authorities in late March, more than 1,500 economists and businesspeople asked the government to impose stricter measures, including lockdown.

“It is not reasonable to expect economic activity to recover from an uncontrolled epidemic,” the experts wrote.

Laura Carvalho, an economist, published a study showing that restrictions can have a negative short-term impact on a country’s financial health, but that, in the long run, it would have been a better strategy.

“If Bolsonaro had carried out lockdown measures, we would have moved earlier from the economic crisis,” said Ms. Carvalho, a professor at the University of São Paulo.

Mr. Bolsonaro’s approach had a broadly destabilizing effect, said Thomas Conti, lecturer at Insper, a business school.

“The Brazilian real was the most devalued currency among all developing countries,” Mr. Conti said. “We are at an alarming level of unemployment, there is no predictability to the future of the country, budget rules are being violated, and inflation grows nonstop.”

Evangelical church members performing baptisms while distributing food.
Evangelical church members performing baptisms while distributing food.
Volunteers with a Catholic charity preparing meals for the hungry in São Paulo.
Volunteers with a Catholic charity preparing meals for the hungry in São Paulo.

The country’s worsening Covid-19 crisis has left Mr. Bolsonaro politically vulnerable. The Senate this month began an inquiry into the government’s handling of the pandemic. The study is expected to document missteps, including the government’s endorsement of drugs that are ineffective to treat Covid-19 and shortages of basic medical supplies, including oxygen. Some of those missteps are likely to be blamed for preventable deaths.

Creomar de Souza, a political analyst and the founder of the consultancy Dharma Politics in Brasília, said the president underestimated the threat the pandemic posed to the country and failed to put together a comprehensive plan to address it.

“They thought it wouldn’t be something serious and figured that the health system would be able to handle it,” he said.

Mr. de Souza said Mr. Bolsonaro has always campaigned and governed combatively, appealing to voters by presenting himself as an alternative to dangerous rivals. His response to the pandemic has been consistent with that playbook, he said.

“The great loss, in addition to the increasing number of victims in this tragedy, is an erosion of governance,” he said. “We’re facing a scenario of high volatility, with a lot of political risks, because the government didn’t deliver on public policies.”

Advocacy and human rights organizations earlier this year started a campaign called Tem Gente Com Fome, or People are Going Hungry, with the aim of raising money from companies and individuals to get food baskets to needy people across the country.

Mr. Belchior, one of the founders, said the campaign was named after a poem by the writer and artist Solano Trindade. It describes scenes of misery viewed as a train in Rio de Janeiro makes its way across poor neighborhoods where the state has been all but absent for decades.

“Families are increasingly pleading for earlier food deliveries,” said Mr. Belchior. “And they’re depending more on community actions than the government.”

Waiting in line for food to be handed out.
Waiting in line for food to be handed out.
Joaquim Ribeiro searching for recyclable materials to sell.
Joaquim Ribeiro searching for recyclable materials to sell.

Carine Lopes, 32, the president of a community ballet school in Manguinhos, a low-income, working-class district of Rio de Janeiro, has responded to the crisis by turning her organization into an impromptu relief center.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the price of basic products rose dramatically at nearby stores, she said. The cost of cooking oil more than tripled. A kilogram of rice goes for twice as much. As meat became increasingly prohibitive, Sunday outdoor cookouts became a rarity in the neighborhood.

Long used to fielding calls from parents who desperately wanted a slot for their children at the ballet school, Ms. Lopes has gotten used to a very different appeal. Old acquaintances and strangers text her daily asking about the food baskets the ballet school has been distributing weekly.

“These moms and dads are only thinking about basic things now,” she said. “They call and say: ‘I’m unemployed. I don’t have anything else to eat this week. Is there anything you can give us?’”

When the virus finally recedes, the poorest families will have the hardest time bouncing back, she said.

Ms. Lopes despairs thinking of students who have been unable to tune in to online classes in households that have no internet connection, or where the only device with a screen belongs to a working parent.

“No one will be able to compete for a scholarship with a middle-class student who managed to keep up with classes using their good internet and their tablets,” she said. “Inequality is being exacerbated.”

Handing out food baskets.
Handing out food baskets.

Ernesto Londoño is the Brazil bureau chief, based in Rio de Janeiro. He was previously an editorial writer and, before joining The Times in 2014, reported for The Washington Post.

Apesar de efeitos negativos, pandemia deixa legado de solidariedade, dizem líderes comunitários (Folha de S.Paulo)

Lalo de Almeida/Folha Press

Cresce preocupação com educação em comunidades pobres de grandes cidades

Thiago Amâncio, 20 de setembro de 2020

Apesar de pessimistas com o legado negativo de alto desemprego e fome que a pandemia da Covid-19 pode deixar, líderes de comunidades pobres país afora se dizem esperançosos com a solidariedade criada nesses lugares após a chegada da doença.

É o que aponta levantamento feito entre 17 e 30 de agosto pela Rede de Pesquisa Solidária, que monitora as respostas à Covid pelo país. É a quarta rodada de uma enquete feita com 64 lideranças comunitárias nas regiões metropolitanas de Manaus, Recife, Belo Horizonte, Rio, São Paulo, Distrito Federal, Campinas (SP), Salvador, Joinville (SC) e Maringá (PR).

“Quando perguntamos sobre perspectiva para o futuro, houve essa percepção de que a pandemia gerou engajamento, foi uma surpresa para nós. Por um lado, é efeito de uma constatação negativa: as pessoas se sentiram abandonadas e aprenderam que tiveram que se reestruturar para reagir à pandemia”, diz Graziela Castello, diretora-administrativa e pesquisadora do Cebrap.

“Moradores que não tinham história de associativismo, relação com sindicato, com partido, começaram a se organizar. Dos entrevistados, 16%, acham que gerou algum tipo de consciência política na população e que a gestão da pandemia provocou a necessidade de avaliar o governo, pensar nas eleições. Dentro do cenário de abandono completo, talvez tenha impacto positivo de maior prática de cidadania política”, continua.

O principal problema apontado pelas lideranças, no entanto, ainda é a segurança alimentar: 62% dos entrevistados disseram se preocupar com a fome provocada pela pandemia. A falta de trabalho também foi citada por metade dos ouvidos.

Uma outra questão despontou no último questionário feito: a preocupação com a educação. Um em cada cinco entrevistados citou a volta às aulas como um dos problemas mais críticos atualmente.

E aí os líderes se dividem: parte deles se preocupa que o retorno das crianças às escolas possa aumentar a contaminação dentro das comunidades; outra parte se preocupa com o pouco acesso das crianças e adolescentes a ferramentas de ensino remoto, prejudicando a aprendizagem.

“Os familiares são terrivelmente contra o retorno às aulas, mesmo porque se trata de um governo e de um prefeito que não investiu na saúde, não fez um investimento na preparação da volta às aulas, nas salas de aula. Segundo, o governo e o prefeito lá vão colocar um frasco de álcool em gel e um ventilador para fazer a ventilação, e [afirmam que] isso é o suficiente para espantar o vírus. A gente sabe que precisa de um investimento muito maior do que isso”, diz um entrevistado do Tucuruvi, zona norte de São Paulo.

“As famílias não têm internet, telefone, computador em casa. E as crianças estão sem estudar, sem escola. E devido a essa situação elas ficam em casa sem fazer nada. Tem mães analfabetas que não sabem explicar e ajudar nas atividades, ficou muito difícil nas comunidades”, diz outro na Brasilândia, também em São Paulo.

Para Castello, “a diversidade de opiniões mostra o drama que é gerenciar essa situação”, diz. “De um lado, tem o medo da volta às aulas, do impacto nos parentes mais velhos, a preocupação de que as escolas não estão preparadas para voltar. Do outro lado, as lideranças apontam deficiências cognitivas, depressão nas crianças, todo esse processo que o distanciamento tem gerado.”

“As duas coisas são muito perversas. Os pais lidam com o medo da volta e com a impossibilidade da manutenção em casa”, diz a pesquisadora.

A Rede de Pesquisa Solidária reúne dezenas de pesquisadores de instituições públicas e privadas, como a USP, o Cebrap (Centro Brasileiro de Análise e Planejamento) e a Fundação Getulio Vargas (FGV). Desde abril, eles têm produzido boletins semanais, que estão disponíveis no site da iniciativa.

As Hunger Swells, Food Stamps Become a Partisan Flash Point (New York Times)

By Jason DeParle – May 6, 2020

Democrats are seeking to raise benefits as research shows a rise in food insecurity without modern precedent amid the pandemic. But Republicans have balked at a long-term expansion of the program.

Volunteers preparing food at a distribution center in Egg Harbor Township, N.J., last month.
Credit…Bryan Anselm for The New York Times

WASHINGTON — As a padlocked economy leaves millions of Americans without paychecks, lines outside food banks have stretched for miles, prompting some of the overwhelmed charities to seek help from the National Guard.

New research shows a rise in food insecurity without modern precedent. Among mothers with young children, nearly one-fifth say their children are not getting enough to eat, according to a survey by the Brookings Institution, a rate three times as high as in 2008, during the worst of the Great Recession.

The reality of so many Americans running out of food is an alarming reminder of the economic hardship the pandemic has inflicted. But despite their support for spending trillions on other programs to mitigate those hardships, Republicans have balked at a long-term expansion of food stamps — a core feature of the safety net that once enjoyed broad support but is now a source of a highly partisan divide.

Democrats want to raise food stamp benefits by 15 percent for the duration of the economic crisis, arguing that a similar move during the Great Recession reduced hunger and helped the economy. But Republicans have fought for years to shrink the program, saying that the earlier liberalization led to enduring caseload growth and a backdoor expansion of the welfare state.

For President Trump, a personal rivalry may also be in play: In his State of the Union address in February, he boasted that falling caseloads showed him besting his predecessor, Barack Obama, whom Newt Gingrich, the former Republican House speaker, had derided as “the food stamp president.” Even as the pandemic unfolded, the Trump administration tried to push forward with new work rules projected to remove more people from aid.

Mr. Trump and his congressional allies have agreed to only a short-term increase in food stamp benefits that omits the poorest recipients, including five million children. Those calling for a broader increase say Congress has spent an unprecedented amount on programs invented on the fly while rejecting a proven way to keep hungry people fed.

“This program is the single most powerful anti-hunger tool that we have and one of the most important economic development tools,” said Kate Maehr, the head of the Chicago food bank. “Not to use it when we have so many people who are in such great need is heartbreaking. This is not a war that charity can win.”

The debate in Congress is about the size of benefits, not the numbers on the rolls. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, as food stamps are also known, expands automatically to accommodate need.

“SNAP is working, SNAP will increase,” said Representative K. Michael Conaway of Texas, the top Republican on the House Agriculture Committee, which oversees the program. “Anyone who qualifies is going to get those benefits. We do not need new legislation.”

Mr. Conaway noted that Republicans have supported huge spending on other programs to temper the economic distress, and increased benefits for some SNAP recipients (for the duration of the health emergency, not the economic downturn). Democrats, he said, want to leverage the pandemic into a permanent food stamp expansion.

“SNAP is working, SNAP will increase,” said Representative K. Michael Conaway, Republican of Texas, referring to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. “We do not need new legislation,” he added.
Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

“I’m a little bit jaded,” he said. “The last time we did this, those changes were sold as being temporary — when unemployment improved, the rolls would revert back. That didn’t happen.”

Rejecting what he called the Democrats’ narrative of “hardhearted Republicans,” he warned against tempting people to become dependent on government aid. “I don’t want to create a moral hazard for people to be on welfare.”

Food stamp supporters say the program is well suited for the crisis because it targets the poor and benefits can be easily adjusted since recipients get them on a debit card. The money gets quickly spent and supplies a basic need.

During the Great Recession, Congress increased maximum benefits by about 14 percent and let states suspend work rules. Caseloads soared. By the time the rolls peaked in 2013, nearly 20 million people had joined the program, an increase of nearly 70 percent, and one in seven Americans received food stamps, including millions with no other income.

Supporters saw a model response. The share of families suffering “very low food security” — essentially, hunger — fell after the benefit expanded (and rose once the increase expired). Analysts at the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Arloc Sherman and Danilo Trisi, found that in 2012 the program lifted 10 million people out of poverty.

“This is what you want a safety net to do — expand in times of crisis,” said Diane Schanzenbach, an economist at Northwestern University.

But a backlash quickly followed, as a weak recovery and efforts to increase participation kept the rolls much higher than they had been before the recession.

Republican governors reinstated work rules for childless adults, and one of them, Sam Brownback of Kansas, succeeded in pushing three-quarters of that population from the rolls. A new conservative think tank, the Foundation for Government Accountability, said the policy “freed” the poor and urged others to follow. By the time Mr. Trump introduced his brand of conservative populism, skepticism of food stamps was part of the movement’s genome.

In a history that spans more than a half-century, the program has alternately been celebrated as “nutritional aid” and attacked as “welfare.”

Its current form dates to a 1977 compromise between two Senate lions, the liberal George McGovern and the conservative Bob Dole. But almost simultaneously Ronald Reagan added to a stream of racialized attacks on the program, invoking the image of a “strapping young buck” who used food stamps to buy steaks. As president, Reagan went on to enact large cuts.

A customer waiting in line outside a grocery store in Brooklyn. New research shows a rise in food insecurity without modern precedent.
Credit…Juan Arredondo for The New York Times

After President Bill Clinton pledged to “end welfare” in the 1990s by restricting cash aid, conservatives sought to include big cuts in food stamps, which he resisted. The law he signed subjected cash aid to time limits and work requirements but allowed similar constraints on just one group of food stamp recipients — adults without minor children, roughly 10 percent of the caseload. (Other provisions disqualified many immigrants.)

His Republican successor, George W. Bush, called himself a “compassionate conservative” and promoted food stamps — partly to help people leaving cash welfare to work — and the caseloads grew by nearly two-thirds.

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“I don’t see it as a welfare program,” said Eric M. Bost, Mr. Bush’s first food stamp administrator. “I see it as a nutritional assistance program. You can only use it to buy food.”

Food stamps remain central to the American safety net — costing much more ($60 billion) than cash aid and covering many more people (38 million). To qualify, a household must have an income of 130 percent of the poverty line or less, about $28,000 for three people. Before the pandemic, the average household had a total income of just over $10,000 and received a benefit of about $239 a month.

But Mr. Trump has done all he can to shrink the program. He sought budget cuts of 30 percent. He tried to replace part of the benefit with “Harvest Boxes” of cheaper commodities. He tried to reduce eligibility and expand work rules to a much larger share of the caseload. When Congress balked, he pursued his goals through regulations. His chief of staff, Mark Meadows, called last year for using erroneous food stamp payments to fund the border wall.

“Under the last administration, more than 10 million people were added to the food stamp rolls,” Mr. Trump said in his State of Union speech (understating the growth). “Under my administration, seven million Americans have come off food stamps.”

In December, Mr. Trump issued a rule that made it harder for states to waive work mandates in areas of high unemployment. Conservatives say liberal states have abused waivers to gut the work rules — only six of California’s 58 counties, for example, enforced the requirement at the start of the year.

“Millions of able-bodied, working-age adults continue to collect food stamps without working or even looking for work,” Mr. Trump said.

But opponents of the Trump work rule, which applies to able-bodied adults, say it will punish indigents willing to work but unable to find jobs. Before the pandemic, the administration predicted nearly 700,000 people would lose benefits. They have average cash incomes of about $367 a month.

“Under my administration, seven million Americans have come off food stamps,” President Trump said during his State of the Union address this year.
Credit…Al Drago for The New York Times

“This rule would take a group of people who are already incredibly poor, and make them worse off,” said Stacy Dean, vice president of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, which favors broad access to benefits.

Even as the pandemic unfolded in mid-March, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue vowed to implement the work rule on April 1 as scheduled. A federal judge halted the move, and Congress deferred the rule until the pandemic ends.

A second target of administration ire is a policy that lets states expand eligibility by waiving certain limits on income and assets. About 40 states do so, although the budget center found more than 99 percent of benefits go to households with net incomes below the poverty line ($21,700 for a family of three).

Critics of the policy — “broad-based categorical eligibility” — say it encourages abuse by allowing people with significant savings to collect benefits. The Trump administration is seeking to eliminate it and has predicted that 3.1 million people would lose benefits, 8 percent of the caseload.

The Republican distrust of food stamps has now collided with a monumental crisis. Cars outside food banks have lined up for miles in places as different as San Antonio, Pittsburgh and Miami Beach.

Among those seeking food bank help for the first time was Andrew Schuster, 22, a long-distance trucker who contracted Covid-19 and returned home to recover outside Cleveland.

Unable to get unemployment benefits as the state’s website crashed, he exhausted his $1,200 stimulus check on rent and watched his food shelves empty. He was down to ramen noodles when he learned the Second Harvest Food Bank of North Central Ohio was distributing food at his high school.

“I felt kind of embarrassed, really, because of the stigma of it,” Mr. Schuster said. But a box of milk, corn and pork loin “lifted a weight off my shoulders — I was almost in tears.”

Mr. Schuster, who voted for Mr. Trump, said that he used to think people abused food stamps, but that he may need to apply. “I never thought I would need it.”

While Mr. Schuster’s income fell, others have seen expenses rise. Jami Clinkscale of Columbus, Ohio, who lives on a disability check of $580 a month, has gone from feeding two people to six after taking in grandchildren when their mother was evicted. She feeds them on $170 of food stamps and frequents food pantries. “I’ve eaten a lot less just to make sure they get what they need,” she said.

The new research by the Brookings Institution underscores the rising need. Analyzing data from the Covid Impact Survey, a nationally representative sample, Lauren Bauer, a Brookings fellow in economic studies, found that nearly 23 percent of households said they lacked money to get enough food, compared with about 16 percent during the worst of the Great Recession. Among households with children, the share without enough food was nearly 35 percent, up from about 21 percent in the previous downturn.

When food runs short, parents often skip meals to keep children fed. But Ms. Bauer’s own survey of households with children 12 and younger found that more than 17.4 percent reported the children themselves not eating enough, compared with 5.7 percent in the Great Recession. (Her survey is called the Survey of Mothers With Young Children.) Inadequate nutrition can leave young children with permanent developmental damage.

People lined up at a drive-through food bank in Kansas City, Kan.
Credit…Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

“This is alarming,” she said. “These are households cutting back on portion sizes, having kids skip meals. The numbers are much higher than I expected.”

Ms. Bauer said disruptions in school meal programs may be part of the problem, with some families unable to reach distribution sites and older siblings at home competing for limited food.

Republicans say the government is spending trillions to meet such needs. In addition to the stimulus checks, Congress has added $600 a week to jobless benefits through July and raised food stamp benefits during the pandemic for about 60 percent of the caseload, at a cost of nearly $2 billion a month. They note that Democrats have not only pushed a longer benefit increase but proposed to permanently block Mr. Trump’s work rules and asset limitations.

“This is a backdoor way to get permanent changes,” Mr. Conaway said.

Democrats say the emergency help will end before the economy recovers and mostly bypasses the neediest families, few of whom qualify for jobless benefits. About 40 percent of food stamp households — the poorest — were left out of the benefit expansion. (The increase gives all households the maximum benefit, $509 for a family of three, though the poorest 40 percent already received it.)

Prospects for a congressional deal remain unclear and may depend on horse-trading in a larger coronavirus bill. But Speaker Nancy Pelosi is adamant that it should contain a broader food stamp expansion.

“First of all, it’s a moral thing to do,” she said in an interview with MSNBC. “Second of all, the people need it. And third of all, it’s a stimulus to the economy.”

Updated April 11, 2020

‘Instead of Coronavirus, the Hunger Will Kill Us.’ A Global Food Crisis Looms (The New York Times)

By Abdi Latif Dahir – April 22, 2020

The world has never faced a hunger emergency like this, experts say. It could double the number of people facing acute hunger to 265 million by the end of this year.

In Kibera, the largest slum in Nairobi, Kenya, residents already live in extreme poverty. Coronavirus lockdowns have caused many more to go hungry.
Credit…Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

Published April 22, 2020; Updated April 23, 2020, 6:39 a.m. ET

NAIROBI, Kenya — In the largest slum in Kenya’s capital, people desperate to eat set off a stampede during a recent giveaway of flour and cooking oil, leaving scores injured and two people dead.

In India, thousands of workers are lining up twice a day for bread and fried vegetables to keep hunger at bay.

And across Colombia, poor households are hanging red clothing and flags from their windows and balconies as a sign that they are hungry.

“We don’t have any money, and now we need to survive,” said Pauline Karushi, who lost her job at a jewelry business in Nairobi, and lives in two rooms with her child and four other relatives. “That means not eating much.”

The coronavirus pandemic has brought hunger to millions of people around the world. National lockdowns and social distancing measures are drying up work and incomes, and are likely to disrupt agricultural production and supply routes — leaving millions to worry how they will get enough to eat.

The coronavirus has sometimes been called an equalizer because it has sickened both rich and poor, but when it comes to food, the commonality ends. It is poor people, including large segments of poorer nations, who are now going hungry and facing the prospect of starving.

“The coronavirus has been anything but a great equalizer,” said Asha Jaffar, a volunteer who brought food to families in the Nairobi slum of Kibera after the fatal stampede. “It’s been the great revealer, pulling the curtain back on the class divide and exposing how deeply unequal this country is.”

Already, 135 million people had been facing acute food shortages, but now with the pandemic, 130 million more could go hungry in 2020, said Arif Husain, chief economist at the World Food Program, a United Nations agency. Altogether, an estimated 265 million people could be pushed to the brink of starvation by year’s end.

“We’ve never seen anything like this before,” Mr. Husain said. “It wasn’t a pretty picture to begin with, but this makes it truly unprecedented and uncharted territory.”

The world has experienced severe hunger crises before, but those were regional and caused by one factor or another — extreme weather, economic downturns, wars or political instability.

This hunger crisis, experts say, is global and caused by a multitude of factors linked to the coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing interruption of the economic order: the sudden loss in income for countless millions who were already living hand-to-mouth; the collapse in oil prices; widespread shortages of hard currency from tourism drying up; overseas workers not having earnings to send home; and ongoing problems like climate change, violence, population dislocations and humanitarian disasters.

Already, from Honduras to South Africa to India, protests and looting have broken out amid frustrations from lockdowns and worries about hunger. With classes shut down, over 368 million children have lost the nutritious meals and snacks they normally receive in school.

There is no shortage of food globally, or mass starvation from the pandemic — yet. But logistical problems in planting, harvesting and transporting food will leave poor countries exposed in the coming months, especially those reliant on imports, said Johan Swinnen, director general of the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington.

While the system of food distribution and retailing in rich nations is organized and automated, he said, systems in developing countries are “labor intensive,” making “these supply chains much more vulnerable to Covid-19 and social distancing regulations.”

Yet even if there is no major surge in food prices, the food security situation for poor people is likely to deteriorate significantly worldwide. This is especially true for economies like Sudan and Zimbabwe that were struggling before the outbreak, or those like Iran that have increasingly used oil revenues to finance critical goods like food and medicine.

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In the sprawling Petare slum on the outskirts of the capital, Caracas, a nationwide lockdown has left Freddy Bastardo and five others in his household without jobs. Their government-supplied rations, which had arrived only once every two months before the crisis, have long run out.

“We are already thinking of selling things that we don’t use in the house to be able to eat,” said Mr. Bastardo, 25, a security guard. “I have neighbors who don’t have food, and I’m worried that if protests start, we wouldn’t be able to get out of here.”

As wages have dried up, half a million people are estimated to have left cities to walk home, setting off the nation’s “largest mass migration since independence,” said Amitabh Behar, the chief executive of Oxfam India.

On a recent evening, hundreds of migrant workers, who have been stuck in New Delhi after a lockdown was imposed in March with little warning, sat under the shade of a bridge waiting for food to arrive. The Delhi government has set up soup kitchens, yet workers like Nihal Singh go hungry as the throngs at these centers have increased in recent days.

“Instead of coronavirus, the hunger will kill us,” said Mr. Singh, who was hoping to eat his first meal in a day. Migrants waiting in food lines have fought each other over a plate of rice and lentils. Mr. Singh said he was ashamed to beg for food but had no other option.

“The lockdown has trampled on our dignity,” he said.

Refugees and people living in conflict zones are likely to be hit the hardest.

The curfews and restrictions on movement are already devastating the meager incomes of displaced people in Uganda and Ethiopia, the delivery of seeds and farming tools in South Sudan and the distribution of food aid in the Central African Republic. Containment measures in Niger, which hosts almost 60,000 refugees fleeing conflict in Mali, have led to surges in the pricing of food, according to the International Rescue Committee.

The effects of the restrictions “may cause more suffering than the disease itself,” said Kurt Tjossem, regional vice president for East Africa at the International Rescue Committee.

Ahmad Bayoush, a construction worker who had been displaced to Idlib Province in northern Syria, said he and many others had signed up to receive food from aid groups, but that it had yet to arrive.

“I am expecting real hunger if it continues like this in the north,” he said.

The pandemic is also slowing efforts to deal with the historic locust plague that has been ravaging the East and Horn of Africa. The outbreak is the worst the region has seen in decades and comes on the heels of a year marked by extreme droughts and floods. But the arrival of billions of new swarms could further deepen food insecurity, said Cyril Ferrand, head of the Food and Agriculture Organization’s resilience team in eastern Africa.

Travel bans and airport closures, Mr. Ferrand said, are interrupting the supply of pesticides that could help limit the locust population and save pastureland and crops.

As many go hungry, there is concern in a number of countries that food shortages will lead to social discord. In Colombia, residents of the coastal state of La Guajira have begun blocking roads to call attention to their need for food. In South Africa, rioters have broken into neighborhood food kiosks and faced off with the police.

And even charitable food giveaways can expose people to the virus when throngs appear, as happened in Nairobi’s shantytown of Kibera earlier this month.

“People called each other and came rushing,” said Valentine Akinyi, who works at the district government office where the food was distributed. “People have lost jobs. It showed you how hungry they are.”

Yet communities across the world are also taking matters into their own hands. Some are raising money through crowdfunding platforms, while others have begun programs to buy meals for needy families.

On a recent afternoon, Ms. Jaffar and a group of volunteers made their way through Kibera, bringing items like sugar, flour, rice and sanitary pads to dozens of families. A native of the area herself, Ms. Jaffar said she started the food drive after hearing so many stories from families who said they and their children were going to sleep hungry.

The food drive has so far reached 500 families. But with all the calls for assistance she’s getting, she said, “that’s a drop in the ocean.”

Reporting was contributed by Anatoly Kurmanaev and Isayen Herrera from Caracas, Venezuela; Paulina Villegas from Mexico City; Julie Turkewitz from Bogotá, Colombia; Ben Hubbard and Hwaida Saad from Beirut, Lebanon; Sameer Yasir from New Delhi; and Hannah Beech from Bangkok.

O coronavírus está ofuscando a pior invasão de gafanhotos do século (GreenMe)

Redação GreenMe

21 de fevereiro de 2020

Na África, está ocorrendo a pior invasão de gafanhotos dos últimos 25 anos, ou dos últimos 75, se considerarmos apenas o caso do Quênia.

Um enxame de insetos com quase o dobro do tamanho de toda a superfície de Roma está se movendo do nordeste do Quênia em direção ao sul do Sudão do Sul e a Uganda.

Estamos falando de quase 200 milhões de gafanhotos que há mais de um mês devastam colheitas e vegetações, devorando em um único dia uma quantidade de comida equivalente ao que 90 milhões de pessoas consumiriam.

É a enésima consequência da crise climática: os gafanhotos precisam de solo úmido e arenoso para depositar seus ovos e proliferar, condições que são verificadas devido a uma estação chuvosa anômala, que durou mais do que o normal.

A situação é dramática, mas, apesar da extensão da emergência, muito poucos estão falando sobre essa invasão devastadora, porque nos últimos meses as atenções se concentraram no Coronavírus.

Ainda assim, a invasão de gafanhotos está colocando em risco quase 4 milhões de crianças que já sofrem de formas graves de desnutrição.

A Etiópia, o Quênia e a Somália já estão tentando lidar com a escassez de recursos alimentares: as previsões indicam que mais de 1,3 milhão de crianças com menos de 5 anos de idade sofrerão fome em 2020, mesmo sem a invasão dramática dos gafanhotos.

Também devido à crise climática, no ano passado, os três países enfrentaram um longo período de seca seguido de uma longa estação chuvosa: as consequentes inundações atingiram e destruíram grandes áreas cultivadas e pastagens, reduzindo os recursos alimentares.

Os insetos vorazes colocarão em dificuldade mais de 10 milhões de pessoas, entre crianças e adultos, que vivem em áreas rurais.

Se a situação piorar ainda mais, muitas pessoas serão forçadas a abandonar suas terras para sobreviver, dando origem a uma importante migração em massa para países onde – pelo menos por enquanto – os efeitos da crise climática ainda são suportáveis.

Originalmente publicado em GreenMe

Drought and rising temperatures ‘leaves 36m people across Africa facing hunger’ (The Guardian)

Unusually strong El Niño, coupled with record-high temperatures, has had a catastrophic effect on crops and rainfall across southern and eastern Africa

A maize plant among other dried maize in a field

A maize plant among other dried maize in a field in Hoopstad in the Free State province, South Africa. The country suffered its driest year on record in 2015. Photograph: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters 

The immediate cause of the drought which has crippled countries from Ethiopia to Zimbabwe is one of the strongest El Niño events ever recorded. It has turned normal weather patterns upside down around the globe, climate scientists say. 

But with the world still reeling from record-high temperatures in February, there are fears that the long-term impacts of climate change are also undermining the region’s ability to endure extremes in weather, leaving huge numbers of people vulnerable to hunger and disease.

The worst hit country in the current crisis is Ethiopia, where rains vital to four-fifths of the country’s crops have failed. Unicef has said it is making plans to treat more than 2 million children for malnutrition, and says more than 10 million people will need food aid.

“Ethiopia has been hit by a double blow, both from a change to the rainy seasons that have been linked to long-term climate change and now from El Niño, which has potentially led the country to one of the worst droughts in decades,” said Gillian Mellsop, Unicef representative to Ethiopia.

The crisis has been damaging even to Ethiopians not at immediate risk of going hungry. It has truncated the education of 3.9 million children and teenagers, who “are unable to access quality education opportunities because of the drought”, she said.

An boy walks through failed crops and farmland in Ethiopia.

An boy walks through failed crops and farmland in Afar, Ethiopia. Four-fifths of crops in the country have failed. Photograph: Mulugeta Ayene/AP

Neighbouring countries grappling with hunger after crops failed include Somalia, Sudan and Kenya, and altogether the failed rains have left more than 20 million people “food insecure” in the region.

The drought caught many officials by surprise, because although El Niño was forecast, the weather event normally brings more rain to the region, not less.

“The typical pattern that you would expect with El Niño is very dry weather in southern Africa, but slightly wetter than normal in eastern Africa,” said Dr Linda Hirons, a research scientist at the National Centre for Atmospheric Science.

“So the fact that we have had parts of eastern Africa experiencing drought is unusual … but every single El Niño event manifests itself differently.”

In southern Africa, the drought caused by El Niño was expected, but it has been even more severe than feared, with rains failing two years in a row.

Overall nearly 16 million people in southern Africa are already going hungry, and that number could rise fast. “More than 40 million rural and 9 million poor urban people are at risk due to the impacts of El Niño’s related drought and erratic rainfall,” the World Food Programme has warned.

Zimbabwe, once the region’s bread basket, is one of the worst hit countries. In February, the country’s president Robert Mugabe declared a state of disaster due to the drought, and in less than a month official estimates of people needing food aid has risen from 3 million to 4 million.

Neighbouring countries are also scrambling to find food aid, including South Africa, whose ports are the main entry point for relief across the region.

“We are seeing this as a regional crisis, a cross-country humanitarian crisis,” said Victor Chinyama. “In each country maybe the numbers [of hungry people] are nowhere near as much as Ethiopia, but if you put these numbers together as a whole region, you get a sense of how large a crisis this is.”

More than a third of households are now going hungry, he said. Families that used to eat two meals a day are cutting back to one, and those who could once provide a single meal for their dependents are now entirely reliant on food aid, he said.

Beyond the immediate scramble to get food to those who need it, aid workers in the region say the drought has served as reminder that communities vulnerable to changing weather patterns need longer-term help adapting.

“It’s becoming common knowledge now that we will experience droughts much more,” said Beatrice Mwangi, resilience and livelihoods director, southern Africa region, World Vision, who said she is focused on medium- and long-term responses.

“In the past it was one big drought every 10 years, then it came to one drought every five years, and now the trends are showing that it will be one every three to five years. So we are in a crisis alright, that is true.

“But it’s going to be the new norm. So our responses need to appreciate that … there is climate change, and it’s going to affect the people that we work with, the communities we serve.”

This article was amended on 17 March 2016 to remove a picture because it was an inaccurate illustration of the theme of the article and contained ambiguities in the caption.

El Niño is causing global food crisis, UN warns (The Guardian)

Severe droughts and floods have ruined harvests, and left nearly 100 million people in southern Africa, Asia and Latin America facing food and water shortages

A farmer surveys her maize fields in Dowa near the Malawi capital of Lilongwe, 3 February 2016.

A farmer surveys her maize fields in Dowa, near the Malawi capital of Lilongwe, earlier this month. The country is experiencing its first maize shortage in a decade, causing prices to soar. Photograph: Mike Hutchings/Reuters

Wednesday 17 February 2016 00.01 GMT / Last modified on Wednesday 17 February 2016 14.48 GMT

Severe droughts and floods triggered by one of the strongest El Niño weather events ever recorded have left nearly 100 million people in southern Africa, Asia and Latin America facing food and water shortages and vulnerable to diseases including Zika, UN bodies, international aid agencies and governments have said.

New figures from the UN’s World Food Programme say 40 million people in rural areas and 9 million in urban centres who live in the drought-affected parts of Zimbabwe, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia, Malawi and Swaziland will need food assistance in the next year.

In addition, 10 million people are said by the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Ocha) to need food in Ethiopia (pdf), and 2.8 million need assistance in Guatemala and Honduras.

Millions more people in Asia and the Pacific regions have already been affected by heatwaves, water shortages and forest fires since El Niño conditions started in mid-2015, says Ocha in a new briefing paper, which forecasts that harvests will continue to be affected worldwide throughout 2016.

“Almost 1 million children are in need of treatment for severe acute malnutrition in eastern and southern Africa. Two years of erratic rain and drought have combined with one of the most powerful El Niño events in 50 years to wreak havoc on the lives of the most vulnerable children,” said Leila Gharagozloo-Pakkala, southern Africa regional director of the UN children’s agency, Unicef.

“Governments are responding with available resources, but this is an unprecedented situation. The situation is aggravated by rising food prices, forcing families to implement drastic coping mechanisms such as skipping meals and selling off assets.”

In a joint statement, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the Famine Early Warning Systems Network said: “El Niño will have a devastating effect on southern Africa’s harvests and food security in 2016. The current rainfall season has so far been the driest in the last 35 years.”

Britain’s Department for International Development (DfID) said in a briefing paper: “Even if it were to start raining today, the planting window for cereals has already closed in the southern part of the region [Africa] and is fast closing elsewhere. There has been a steep rise in market prices of imported staple goods. This is restricting access to food for the most vulnerable.”

According to the World Health Organisation, the heavy rains expected from El Niño in Peru, Ecuador, Paraguay and southern Brazil could increase the spread of the Zika virus. “The Aedes aegypti mosquito breeds in standing water. We could expect more mosquito vectors which can spread Zika virus because of expanding and favourable breeding sites [in El Niño-affected countries],” the organisation said.

El Niño conditions, which stem from a natural warming of Pacific Ocean waters, lead to droughts, floods and more frequent cyclones across the world every few years. This year’s event is said by meteorologists to be the worst in 35 years and is now peaking. Although it is expected to decline in strength over the next six months, its effects on farming, health and livelihoods in developing countries could last two years or more because of failed harvests and prolonged flooding.

“Insufficient rains since March 2015 have resulted in drought conditions. In Central America, El Niño conditions have led to a second consecutive year of drought – one of the region’s most severe in history,” said an Ocha spokesman.

“Mozambique and southern African countries face a disaster if the rains do not come within a few weeks,” said Abdoulaye Balde, WFP country director in Maputo. “South Africa is 6m tonnes short of food this year. But it is the usual provider of food reserves in the region. If they have to import 6m tonnes for themselves, there will be little left for other countries. The price of food will rise dramatically.”

Zimbabwe, which declared a national emergency this month, has seen harvests devastated and food prices soar, according to the WFP in Harare. It reports that food production has halved compared to last year and maize is 53% more expensive. It expects to need nearly $1.6bn in aid to help pay for grain and other food after the drought.

Malawi is experiencing its first maize deficit in a decade, pushing the price 73% higher than the December 2015 average. In Mozambique, prices were 50% higher than last year. The country depends on food imports from South Africa and Zimbabwe, and faces a disaster if rains do not arrive in the next few weeks, said Balde.

Fears are also growing that international donors have been preoccupied by Syriaand the Ebola crisis, and have not responded to food aid requests from affected countries.

“El Niño began wreaking havoc last year. The government has done its best to tackle the resultant drought on its own, by tapping into the national food reserves and allocating more than $300m [£210m] to buy wheat in the international market,” said Ethiopian foreign minister Tedros Ghebreyesus.

“But the number of people in need of food assistance has risen very quickly, making it difficult for Ethiopia to cope alone. For the 10.2 million people in need of aid, requirements stood at $1.4bn. The Ethiopian government has so far spent $300m and a similar sum has been pledged by donors. The gap is about $800m,” he said.

According to the Famine Early Warning Systems Network, set up by the US international development agency, USAID, in 1985, continued below-average rainfall and high temperatures are likely to persist in southern African well into 2016, with the food crisis lasting into 2017.

Desastres naturais forçam migrações de 60 mil por dia (O Globo)

Vítimas das mudanças climáticas deslocam-se em busca de meios de subsistência


Somalis caminham em direção a um campo de refugiados no Quênia: desertificação do campo – Rebecca Blackwell/AP

BOGOTÁ — O Pentágono chama de “multiplicação de ameaças”. O secretário de Estado americano, John Kerry, alerta para os “novos refugiados”. Sua antecessora, a pré-candidata à Presidência dos EUA Hillary Clinton, ressalta a “guerra pela água”. Paddy Ashdown, um político veterano britânico, acredita que o planeta vive uma “crise humanitária”. Não importa o termo, a população desalojada pelas mudanças climáticas e pelas catástrofes naturais preocupa autoridades mundiais. Estima-se que, desde 2008, cerca de 22,5 milhões de pessoas deixaram suas casas, por ano, devido a eventos extremos do clima — o equivalente a 62 mil casos diários. Este cenário ainda pode piorar.

Essas pessoas são desabrigadas por problemas como a desertificação de terras, ou mesmo por catástrofes como tufões e inundações, mais comuns devido às mudanças no clima. A odisseia em busca de moradia pode começar dentro do próprio país. Normalmente, os refugiados migram do campo para áreas urbanas, onde enfrentam problemas, já que habilidades como o cultivo agrícola não podem ser aproveitadas.— Cada centro urbano deve desenvolver uma forma para reduzir o contraste entre a elite local e os miseráveis que chegam — defendeu Beatriz Sanches, professora de Direito Internacional da Universidade de Los Andes, na Colômbia, durante o Encontro das Américas sobre as Mudanças Climáticas, que aconteceu em Bogotá. — Mesmo diante das dificuldades das zonas rurais, deixamos que um Deus Todo Poderoso resolva tudo.


Javier Gonzaga, da Faculdade de Ciências Jurídicas e Sociais da Universidade de Caldas, também da Colômbia, assinala que os migrantes climáticos não conseguem mais manter os meios seculares que garantiam sua sobrevivência.

— Não é possível saber se a principal causa da migração é a pobreza ou a destruição do ecossistema rural. Ambos estão unidos — explica Gonzaga. — A vulnerabilidade social, associada às migrações ligadas ao clima, está aumentando com diferentes intensidades em cada país. Alguns cenários alarmistas previstos pela ONU para 2070 já podem ocorrer no meio do século.

A ONU e algumas instituições de pesquisa, como o Centro de Monitoramento de Deslocamento do Conselho Norueguês de Refugiados, acreditam que o número de pessoas desalojadas pelo clima pode chegar à marca de 250 milhões, por ano, em 2050.

A categoria de migrantes climáticos não é protegida pelo direito internacional, como são os refugiados de guerra que há meses deixam a Síria ou as vítimas de violações de direitos humanos. Então, podem ser obrigados a voltar para a região devastada. Também precisam adaptar-se a diferentes legislações, idiomas e culturas, e podem ser excluídos de sistemas básicos de assistência social, como o acesso a escolas ou a programas de saúde.

Refugiados sírios passam por cerca para atravessar a fronteira entre a Sérvia e a Hungria: além da guerra civil, país asiático sofre com estiagem há cinco anos – Bela Szandelszky/AP

Para piorar, há uma confusão crescente sobre as categorias dos refugiados. Os milhares de migrantes que tentam trocar a guerra civil na Síria pela Europa Ocidental fogem também da seca. Entre 2006 e 2011, o país asiático sofreu com a estiagem. O mesmo problema se manifesta na África, onde somalis e etíopes testemunham a desertificação do campo, inviabilizando a agricultura de subsistência. Tentam buscar uma solução nas balsas lotadas que atravessam o Mar Mediterrâneo, em direção à Itália.

— Em qualquer lugar do planeta, as mudanças climáticas podem levar à desertificação e à perda da qualidade de vida. Com um ambiente propício à violência, pode ocorrer um cenário semelhante ao da Síria — avalia o economista Pavan Sukhdev, embaixador da ONU para Meio Ambiente, que esteve semana passada no Fórum Agenda Bahia. — E há locais em que o clima, sozinho, já serve como um gatilho para a migração. O derretimento de calotas polares da Antártica e do Ártico, por exemplo, pode levar a um aumento do nível do mar de até seis metros neste século.

A inundação teria consequências drásticas em Bangladesh, o oitavo país mais populoso do mundo, que perderia para as águas cerca de 17% de seu território até 2050. Estes eventos extremos levariam ao surgimento de mais de 20 milhões de refugiados climáticos naquela região.

Alguns Estados insulares já providenciam o deslocamento de sua população. O arquipélago de Kiribati, no Oceano Pacífico, comprou terras na vizinha Fiji. No Oceano Índico, as Maldivas perderiam todas as suas 1.200 ilhas. A economia, baseada no turismo e na pesca, seria aniquilada. Por isso, seu governo planeja construir ilhas artificiais flutuantes, enquanto negocia programas de evacuação com autoridades da Austrália e da Índia.

— A falta de preparo para lidar com as catástrofes naturais sempre foi um grande desafio para as nações — lamenta Irwin Redlener, diretor do Centro Nacional de Preparação para Desastres dos EUA. — Às vezes, os custos são importantes. Em outras ocasiões, há fatores psicológicos e culturais que inibem a adoção de uma “preparação mental” entre os cidadãos ou mesmo dos chefes de Estado.


Segundo Sukhdev, as consequências das mudanças climáticas nos oceanos podem repercutir mesmo nos países que não correm risco de serem afundados.

— Os oceanos vão absorver o excesso de carbono na atmosfera e, com isso, as águas ficarão mais ácidas — descreve. — A vida marinha dos corais, que são a fonte de alimentação dos peixes, está ameaçada. Até 600 milhões de pessoas que dependem da indústria pesqueira nos litorais não conseguirão manter sua atividade econômica e precisarão migrar. E, muitas vezes, estão próximas a zonas urbanas superpopulosas, onde não devem encontrar espaço ou oportunidades.

Coordenador do Centro Universitário de Estudos e Pesquisas sobre Desastres (Ceped-UFSC), Antonio Edésio Jungles pondera que o Brasil melhorou recentemente seus sistemas de alerta precoce contra desastres climáticos. O país, no entanto, continua exposto a fenômenos cada vez mais intensificados pelas mudanças climáticas.

— As consequências são lentas e graduais. Em Santa Catarina, por exemplo, temos problemas de estiagens cíclicas, o que faz com que a população se afaste e as empresas deixem de se instalar em algumas regiões. Essas catástrofes climáticas devem se acirrar nos próximos anos — comenta. — Tudo tem um limite, um ponto em que o equilíbrio com a cadeia produtiva, a flora e a fauna fica comprometido, e muitas vezes estas mudanças não são rapidamente percebidas.

Sukhdev já enxerga mudanças provocadas pelo clima no país.

— Algumas cidades costeiras, como Salvador, Rio, Recife e São Luís, estarão entre as prejudicadas pela modificação no ecossistema marinho — revela. — Em São Paulo, a temperatura registrada no último dia de inverno foi de 37 graus Celsius. Nem no verão este índice seria comum.

Perguntado sobre qual região do planeta estaria mais a salvo das mudanças climáticas — e receptiva aos migrantes —, Sukhdev foi taxativo:

— Estamos em uma estrada e está vindo um caminhão. Podemos sair da frente dele daqui a um segundo ou daqui a cinco ou dez, mas ele vai passar de qualquer forma. Não há uma região. O que existe é a economia verde e sustentável. E ela precisa ser adotada.

Dez anos de Fome Zero ajuda Guaribas (PI) a elevar IDH (Agência Brasil)

Da Agência Brasil – 03/02/2013

Lucas Rodrigues
Enviado Especial da EBC

Guaribas (PI) – Lançado no dia 3 de fevereiro de 2003, no município com o menor Índice de Desenvolvimento Humano (IDH) do país, o Programa Fome Zero foi criado com o objetivo de erradicar a miséria, com a transferência de renda e garantindo o alimento para as famílias que viviam na extrema pobreza. Hoje, o Brasil ainda tem pelo menos 5,3 milhões de pessoas sobrevivendo com menos de R$ 70 por mês, diferentemente do início dos anos 2000, quando eram 28 milhões de pessoas abaixo da linha da pobreza.

Nos último dez anos, esse número vem diminuindo. Em parte, por causa de políticas públicas de ampliação do trabalho formal, do apoio à agricultura e da transferência de renda. Hoje, a iniciativa, que ganhou o nome de Bolsa Família, chega a quase 14 milhões de lares. Ela nasceu do Programa Fome Zero, criado para garantir no mínimo três refeições por dia a todos os brasileiros. E foi do interior do Nordeste que essa iniciativa partiu para o restante do país.

Depois de dez anos, a Agência Brasil voltou a Guaribas, no sul do Piauí, escolhida como a primeira beneficiária do programa de transferência de renda. Localizada a 600 quilômetros ao sul da capital, Teresina, Guaribas não oferecia condições básicas para uma vida digna de sua população: faltava comida no prato das famílias, que, na maioria das vezes, só tinham feijão para comer. Não havia rede elétrica e poucas casas tinham fogão a gás.

Mulheres e crianças andavam quilômetros para conseguir um pouco de água e essa busca, às vezes, durava o dia inteiro. A dona de casa Gilsa Alves lembra que, naquela época, “era difícil encontrar água para lavar roupa”, no período de seca. “Às vezes, até para tomar banho era com dificuldade”.

O aposentado Eurípedes Correa da Silva não se esquece daquele tempo, quando chegou a trabalhar até de vigia das poucas fontes que eram verdadeiros tesouros durante os longos períodos de seca, com água racionada. Hoje, a água chega, encanada, à casa dele.

Pai de sete filhos, Eurípedes tem televisão e geladeira. Além do dinheiro da lavoura e da aposentadoria, ele recebia o benefício do Fome Zero e agora conta com o Bolsa Família. O benefício chega a 1,5 mil lares e a meta é alcançar 2 mil neste ano, o que representa oito em cada dez moradores da cidade. A coordenadora do programa em Guaribas, Raimunda Correia Maia, diz que “o dinheiro que gira no município, das compras, da sustentação dos filhos, gera desenvolvimento”.

A energia elétrica também chegou a Guaribas e trouxe com ela internet e os telefones celulares. No centro da cidade, há uma praça com ruas calçadas e uma delegacia, além de agências bancárias, dos Correios e escolas. A frota de veículos cresceu e, hoje, o que se vê são motos, em vez de jegues.

O município conquistou o principal objetivo: acabar com a miséria. Mesmo assim, ainda está entre os mais pobres do país e enfrenta o êxodo dos jovens em busca de emprego em grandes cidades. Segundo o IBGE, entre 2000 e 2007, quase 10% dos moradores deixaram Guaribas.

Alan e Rosângela podem ser os próximos. O Bolsa Família e as melhorias na cidade não foram suficientes para manter o casal no município, já que ali os dois não encontram trabalho. Os irmãos já foram para São Paulo e é impossível sustentar a família de oito pessoas com um cartão (do Bolsa Família) de R$ 130.

Quem escolheu ficar na cidade sabe que muita coisa tem que melhorar. O esgoto ainda não é tratado; algumas obras não saíram do lugar, como a do mercado municipal. Até o memorial erguido em homenagem ao Fome Zero está abandonado há anos. Longe de Teresina, os moradores se sentem isolados, principalmente por causa da dificuldade de chegar à cidade mais próxima: são 54 quilômetros de estrada de terra, em péssimo estado, até Caracol.

Isso torna difícil escoar a produção de feijão e milho e faz com que todos os produtos cheguem mais caros. A dificuldade de acesso também prejudica uma das conquistas da região: a unidade de saúde. A doméstica Betânia Andrade Dias Silva levou o filho de 5 anos para uma consulta e não encontrou médicos.

Há mais de um mês, o atendimento é feito apenas por enfermeiras e por um dentista. Mesmo oferecendo um salário que chega a R$ 20 mil, a prefeitura diz que não consegue contratar médicos. O jeito é mandar os pacientes mais graves para as cidades Ela desabafa: “É ruim né?! Principalmente numa cidade pequena, na qual você precisa de um atendimento melhor, tem que sair para ir para outra cidade, Caracol, São Raimundo, que fica longe daqui. Por exemplo, caso de urgência, se você estiver à beira da morte, acaba morrendo na estrada… Então, é difícil”.

Mas essa situação pode começar a mudar ainda neste ano. Segundo informou a Secretaria de Transportes do Piauí, o trecho da BR-235 que liga Guaribas a Caracol deve começar a ser asfaltado em outubro. Por enquanto, está sendo asfaltado outro trecho da rodovia, entre Gilbués e Santa Filomena.

O casal Irineu e Eldiene saiu de Guaribas para procurar trabalho em outras cidades, mas voltou. Agora eles levantam, pouco a pouco, uma pousada no centro da cidade. Irineu diz que a obra que está fazendo não é “nem tanto pensando no agora”, é para o futuro. “Estou vendo que a cada ano que está passando, Guaribas está desenvolvendo mais”.

A expectativa de Irineu e Edilene é resultado da mudança dessa que já foi a cidade mais pobre do país. Mesmo com dificuldades, os moradores de Guaribas, agora, olham para o futuro com mais esperança e otimismo. Eldiene garante que vai ficar e ver a pousada cheia de clientes.

Veja aqui galeria de fotos de Guaribas na época do laçamento do Fome Zero.

Edição: Tereza Barbosa

Literatura da fome: projeto promove encontro inusitado (Faperj)

Danielle Kiffer

Para Ana Paula, Glauber Rocha tem estilo similar ao de Artaud, por vincular a escrita ao traço pictórico e reinventar a gramática.

Você tem fome de quê?”. A música Comida, da banda Titãs, já colocava há algum tempo o questionamento sobre as inúmeras fomes que sentimos, que vão desde o desejo de consumir arte à necessidade da própria comida. Porém, é a abordagem do sentido literal da palavra que dá forma a um encontro que parecia improvável: entre os escritores brasileiros Josué de Castro e Graciliano Ramos, o cineasta Glauber Rocha e o poeta, ator e diretor teatral francês Antonin Artaud. O projeto “O corpo extremo: da escrita limite ao limite da escrita”, desenvolvido pela professora Ana Paula Veiga Kiffer, da Pontifícia Universidade Católica (PUC-Rio), analisa a questão da fome e da loucura de Antonin Artaud, usando como referência a fundamentação crítica e teórica dos três autores brasileiros.

Para a professora, que é Jovem Cientista do Nosso Estado, da FAPERJ, poucas semelhanças unem os quatro escritores, além do foco no tema que os reúne. “Todos retrataram a fome, mas de maneiras diversas. Em termos de estilo, acredito que Glauber Rocha é o que mais se aproxima de Artaud, pois ambos extrapolam a escrita e a vinculam ao traço pictórico, reinventando a gramática em suas obras, o que mostra a necessidade de criar um modo de dizer o que sentiam que ia além das palavras”, detalha. Dos quatro pensadores, por exemplo, o único que realmente vivenciou a fome foi o poeta francês, como explica Ana Paula: “Apesar de vir de uma família com boas condições financeiras, Artaud experimentou a pobreza e a fome em diferentes fases da vida. Ele viveu a decadência e a carência material do período entre a primeira e a segunda guerras mundiais na Europa e durante sua internação em instituições psiquiátricas, onde a alimentação era escassa. Durante a Segunda Guerra, época de sua internação, a fome foi utilizada como forma de extermínio nessas instituições.”

Com o romance Homens e Caranguejos, Josué de Castro foi inspiração para o
movimento conhecido como mangue beat.

Uma das primeiras teorias de Artaud que tem relação com a fome é o manifesto Teatro da Crueldade, de 1934. Nele, o autor clama por um teatro e uma cultura cujas forças vivas fossem idênticas às da fome. Ainda nos anos 1930, ele escreveu o poema intitulado A fome não espera, em que denuncia a decadência político-econômica da Europa da época. No poema, Artaud incita o leitor a transformar sua fome em seu próprio tesouro. Como destaca Ana Paula, há, no texto, uma grande semelhança com a Estétyka da Fome, de Glauber Rocha, na qual ele também nos desafia a fazer da nossa precariedade a nossa força. “Artaud é um autor radical como Glauber também é radical. O discurso de ambos não tem nada de vitimização, muito pelo contrário. É, sim, transformador, um estímulo à potência, à afirmação de uma diferença e às características que o povo brasileiro possui. Muitas vezes, de onde muito pouco se espera, há grandes movimentos de superação. Um exemplo que podemos citar, aqui mesmo no Rio de Janeiro, é o caso da Coopa-Roca, uma cooperativa de mulheres da favela da Rocinha, que fez do fuxico sua arte, sua forma de sobrevivência. E tudo com muito sucesso.”

Apesar de não ser mais um assunto discutido na intelectualidade, a literatura sobre a fome, no Brasil, gerou frutos que rendem até hoje. Um grande exemplo vem do escritor e médico Josué de Castro. Uma de suas principais obras e seu único romance, Homens e Caranguejos, publicado em 1967, influenciou, quase trinta anos mais tarde, a formulação do movimento musical mangue beat, liderado por Chico Science e Fred Zero Quatro, na década de 1990,  em Recife. Se Josué de Castro compara os homens, catadores de caranguejo, aos próprios crustáceos, ambos famintos e mergulhados na lama, Chico Science fala do mangue e sua sociedade marginal de homens-caranguejo, juntando na mesma panela musical, funk, hip hop e influências regionais.

Durante suas pesquisas em obras literárias, Ana Paula observou que a relação entre a loucura e a fome é estreita. Em Vidas Secas, de Graciliano Ramos, por exemplo, os personagens centrais da trama que se passa no sertão nordestino brasileiro, sentem tanta fome que passam a delirar. “Pode-se dizer que a fome leva à loucura e a loucura pode levar a um tal estado de abandono e indigência, em que a fome certamente estará presente. Estas duas características estão muito próximas.”

Também a experiência do francês Artaud, durante o período em que ficou internado, tanto no asilo de Rodez quanto em Ivry-Sur-Seine, na França, foi registrada, de forma original e única, em cadernos escolares. “Nestes cadernos, podemos perceber a materialização da fome vivida, que transforma essa experiência em um discurso que traz um novo modo de dizer, que parece tratar a linguagem como algo concreto e material.” Para Ana Paula, a discussão sobre a fome deve ser retomada sob outro ângulo, encarando-a e a outros problemas da nossa sociedade, mas substituindo a vitimização pela superação.