Editorial

Dear readers,

As my semester of research on hunger in Brasil comes to a close, I wanted to leave you with a final verdict of my findings. Throughout this time my goals have been to first learn what hunger in Brasil actually looks like, then to analyze the steps the country has taken to fight this, to determine how successful or unsuccessful these strategies have been, and finally to resolve what the next step for the country should be in order to alleviate hunger once and for all.

When looking at a map presented by the World Food Programme, hunger in Brasil seems virtually nonexistent. According to this United Nations funded group, Brasil’s hunger situation is as trivial as it is in Europe and the United States, and is no cause for alarm. However, when looking outside of this biased map, it is clear that hunger is still very much a problem in Brasil. This view supported by the UN seems to be simply political propaganda in support of their new program, United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), to fight against poverty. However, the various news sources throughout Brasil paint the severity of the country’s hunger problem in a very different light. Unlike the World Food Programme, Brasil’s government news admits that, although progress has been made, Brasil’s hunger problem is still notable. However, the government news quickly brushes over this blemish to focus and promote the UN agenda of progress. Likewise, the perspective of news sources such as Carta Capital or Agência PT de Notícias are similar to the government news; they broadcast an idealized version of the problem and support the current government’s policies, regardless of the reality of the situation: “O Brasil assumiu o compromisso de erradicar a fome, e isso se traduziu em políticas sociais” (1). The current hunger problem in Brasil will continue to exist as long as the government, local, and global media outlets portray it as a problem of the past. When looking though this untruthful veil of progress to the millions of people facing unyielding poverty and hunger, it is clear that Brasil still has major work to do. Only by admitting to the limited success Brasil has had thus far in eradicating hunger, and focusing on creating a significant improvement on the living conditions of the hungry will true progress be seen.

The core problem behind Brasil’s hunger situation is limited access, not an actual shortage of food. People with a lower socioeconomic status or who live in more remote areas have less access to food due to their living conditions; ”people do not go hungry for lack of food but lack of income” (3). Whether or not this inability of citizens to obtain sufficient food changes depending on where the government chooses to funnel its efforts.  The government launched two major campaigns to fight against hunger in 2003 and 2010 (2). The first program, Fome Zero, focused on improving food distribution and creating better access to donations. This program ended a few years later when it was combined with welfare program, Bolsa Familia. The next program implemented, Brasil Sem Miseria, took into account that simply providing food will never relieve the root cause of hunger, but will instead create a dependent society. This program turned its focus to relieving poverty, so that, indirectly, the hunger problem would also be solved.

Both these programs received ample government support. The campaigns to fight against hunger and poverty were broadcast worldwide, leading to massive fundraising campaigns for the cause. New government organizations worked alongside Non-Government Organizations in an attempt to implement these policies. New laws were also created to support these welfare policies, like in 2010 when  “amendment No. 64 to Brazil’s Constitution declared access to food a social right” (1). These programs focused on some of the most impoverished communities in Northeast Brasil. Overall, Brasil has managed to become a global example for fighting poverty, mainly because their dedication was so well advertised.

Flash forward to today and hunger is sadly still a notable problem in Brasil. This begs the question: what did these promising government welfare programs actually accomplish? Despite all of the government support through funding, organizations, and laws, the fault in the government’s welfare policies was in their implementation. Although these policies offer wonderful ideas to lessen the burden of poverty, they have not been able to create any sustainable change in communities. For example, the Fome Zero project attempted to provide a school lunch program, but this was only a surface level success. This small victory did nothing to help the parents or children who did not attend school because the family’s conditions of poverty remained unchanged. Additionally, although some improvement could be seen in the most impoverished areas of the Northeast, the success of these programs never made it into urban areas which, consequently, never received as much attention or support (1). Lastly, one of the most detrimental failures is the programs’ lack of “social inclusion and integration” (1). The failure of these programs to include the people living in poverty into Brasil’s market ultimately led to the unsuccessful sustainability of these programs’ influence.

I cannot pretend to know the answer to eliminating hunger in Brasil; however, I will conclude with some potential solutions for eliminating Brasil’s hunger crisis once and for all. By creating more sustainable political agendas and strategizing better ways implement them, the government’s welfare programs could see more long-term success. There should also be a focus on favelas to encourage urban development away of poverty, which could indirectly lead to improvement in more social agendas than just hunger. The main solution I propose for Brasil’s hunger problem is to promote social change. If the government could use its widespread influence for shifting the world’s view on poverty instead of simply promoting shallow successes, assimilation for the impoverished into Brasil’s social and economic market may one day be possible. Only then will Brasil start to see zero hunger and become Brasil sem miseria.

-Rebecca

Sources:

  • Paes-Sousa, Romulo, and Jeni Vaitsman. “The Zero Hunger And Brazil Without Extreme Poverty Programs: A Step Forward In Brazilian Social Protection Policy.” Revista Ciência & Saúde Coletiva11 (2014): 4351-4360. Fonte Acadêmica. Web. 2 May. 2016.
  • http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-19359111
  • http://www.pt.org.br/combate-a-fome-no-brasil-e-destaque-em-relatorio-da-fao/