The United Nations (UN) Food and Agriculture Program (FAO) released a report in Rome, on March 8, with data on malnutrition and hunger around the world. According to the UN agency, around 850 million people suffered from malnutrition between 2000 and 2002.
During this period, over 20 million underweight babies were born. Each year another five million children die of malnutrition, most of them in developing countries.
Brazil is mentioned in the FAO document as one of the countries that is on the right road to ending hunger. According to the UN report, “The State of Food Insecurity in the World, 2004,” malnutrition has been decreasing in Brazil in the last 13 years.
According to the document, the number of undernourished people in the country fell from 18.5 million (12% of the overall population) in 1990-1992 to 16.5 million (10%) in 1995-1997 and then to 15.6 million (9%) in 2000-2002.
The report goes on to cite the Brazilian government program known as Zero Hunger as an example of a strategy to combat hunger.
According to the document, “The Brazilian Zero Hunger program has demonstrated that the acquisition of food products from small and medium-sized local farmers for school lunches and other assistance programs leads to an increase in the availability of foodstuffs, higher income, and improved food security.”
For the secretary of Food Security of the Ministry of Social Development, José Giacamo Baccarin, a social policy is in place that “links activities to provide immediate access to food with activities to supplement income, more specifically, through the Family Grant program.”
The Family Grant program current benefits more than half the number of families that, in the government’s estimate, live below the poverty line (6.5 million of a total 11 million). The goal is to serve all the families that live in these conditions in 2006. The families receive an average monthly allowance of US$ 26 (72 reais).
In the FAO’s list of 95 countries ranked by hunger and malnutrition, Brazil occupies 27th place. Eritrea, in eastern Africa, brings up the rear, with 73% of the population suffering from nutritional problems.
Among the developing countries with the lowest indices of malnutrition between 2000 and 2002 are Tunisia (1.04%), the Republic of Korea (1.4%), and Argentina (1.6%).
Translator: David Silberstein