One out of every three people in Venezuela is struggling to get enough food to meet minimum nutrition requirements. That information comes from the United Nations World Food Program (WFP).
The U.N. agency published results of a nationwide survey this week. The findings were based on information provided by more than 8,300 people. The World Food Program says the study was done at the invitation of the Venezuelan government.
The survey showed that a total of 9.3 million people are moderately or severely food insecure. Food insecurity is defined as an individual being unable to meet basic dietary needs.
The World Food Program report describes food insecurity as a nationwide concern. Even in wealthy areas, one in five people are estimated to be food insecure.
Venezuelan opposition leader Miguel Pizarro said, “The reality of this report shows the gravity of the social, economic and political crisis in our country.” He spoke to The Associated Press.
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has been largely unwilling in recent years to invite international organizations to study the nation’s crisis. However, the World Food Program said it was permitted “full independence” and collected information throughout the country without any interference.
The U.N. agency added that, “WFP looks forward to a continuation of its dialogue with the Venezuelan government and discussions that will focus on the way forward to provide assistance for those who are food insecure.”
The study found that 74 percent of families have taken steps to deal with food-related issues, such as reducing the variety and quality of food they eat. Sixty percent of families reported cutting portion sizes in meals. Thirty-three percent said they had accepted food as payment for work, while 20 percent reported selling family belongings to cover basic needs.
The issue appears to be one that is less about the availability of food and more about the difficulty in getting it. Seven in 10 reported that food could always be found but said it is difficult to buy because of high prices. Thirty-seven percent reported they had lost their job or business as a result of economic conditions.
Venezuela’s political and humanitarian crisis has led more than 4.5 million people to flee the country in recent years. Maduro has remained in office, beating back a campaign by opposition leader Juan Guaidó to remove him from power.
The study also looked at breaks in access to electricity and water. It found that four in 10 homes experience daily power cuts. Four in 10 also reported repeated breaks in water service.
Carolina Fernández, a rights activist, works with at risk women in Venezuela. She notes that the study was done in 2019. Fernández said she believes the economic situation has become even worse since then. She added that the conditions makes it difficult for many families to survive on money sent by relatives living overseas.
“Now it’s not enough to have one person living abroad,” she said.
Fernández said food insecurity is likely to have a lasting effect on a generation of young Venezuelans going hungry.
She said, “We’re talking about children who are going to have long-term problems because they’re not eating adequately.”
I’m Ashley Thompson.
Jorge Rueda and Christine Armario reported this story for the Associated Press. Jonathan Evans adapted it for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
Words in This Story
access – n. the right or ability to approach, enter, or use
minimum – n. the lowest number or amount that is possible or allowed
portion – n. the amount of food that is served to a person at one time
variety – n. a number or collection of different things or people