World Food Day: Economic crisis in Venezuela drives up food insecurity

World Today

World Food Day: Economic crisis in Venezuela drives up food insecurity

October 17 is World Food Day, and the U.N. is urging governments to make healthy diets available and affordable for everyone. Latin America and the Caribbean is one of the few regions where food insecurity is on the rise.

CGTN’s Gerald Tan looks at one country where the problem is especially acute.

At a bus depot in the border town of San Antonio Del Tachira, it’s mission accomplished for these Venezuelans. They eagerly await their ride home, laden with much-needed groceries.
But it hasn’t been easy. Many have come from far away and had to travel to neighboring Colombia to buy provisions.

Juana Estrado shares her plight: “The odyssey for us to come here is leaving the day before four in the afternoon and arriving here at 8 in the morning. With all the sacrifice, look how my feet are swollen from traveling. And now we have to go back again with all this luggage.”

Juana is among the many Venezuelans who find themselves at risk of going hungry each day because of severe food shortages. As UN statistics show, the country’s ongoing economic crisis is driving people to the edge.

A 2019 report from the World Food and Agricultural Organization says hunger is rising across Latin America, where in the previous year, 5.7 percent of the population was undernourished.

But the situation is particularly worrying in Venezuela, with an undernourishment rate 21.2-percent in 2018. That’s roughly one in every five persons. And children are among the most vulnerable.

The FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu says, “The latest data shows that malnutrition is increasing across all regions and income groups. World Food Day 2019 calls for action to make health and sustainable diets accessible and affordable to everyone.”

Poverty is one of the root causes of hunger and malnutrition. But a prolonged downturn in Venezuela’s economy has disrupted food supply chains for millions, forcing people to take extreme measures to feed themselves.