Monday, April 19, 2021

Brasil's Nightmare

Brazil is in the grip of a health and social emergency. It has the world's second-highest death toll from the pandemic at over 370,000, and hospitals are near collapse. A study last week found that 60% of Brazilian households have food insecurity, lacking sufficient access to enough to eat.

In Brasil, hungry residents of Heliopolis, São Paulo's largest favela, require a daily handout of food that will keep them going until the next morning. They are given a bowl of pasta with meat and a portion of rice, two packets of biscuits and a carton of milk, shared between a whole household and usually their only meal of the day. The charity has 650  other food banks across São Paulo.

"The vast majority of people who live in the favelas work in the informal economy, as cleaners in homes or helping to bake cakes, so when businesses close or houses stop using them, they feel the impact," says Marcivan Barreto, the local co-ordinator. "You see people queuing up at 03:00 for food. I'm very worried that as the pandemic continues, a hungry father will start looting supermarkets. When you're starving, despair hits."

During the first wave of the pandemic, Brazil's government introduced emergency relief, known as "coronavouchers". More than 67 million people received a monthly sum of 600 reais (£83; $107, at the time). It was the biggest single injection of financial aid in Brazil's history. But the relief was temporary. With ballooning public debt, the government first suspended the programme and then reintroduced it but at a far lower level of 250 reais and for fewer people.

 Hospitals fill up, the food queues grow longer, and this shattered country watches helplessly as fresh graves are dug.

Covid in Brazil: Hunger worsens in city slums - BBC News

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