Across Brazil, Latin America’s most populous nation, researchers say 19 million people have gone hungry since the start of a Covid outbreak that has killed more than 540,000. So far only about 16% of citizens have been fully vaccinated.
An additional 117 million people – more than half of Brazil’s population – experienced food insecurity.
There has been soaring unemployment. Nearly 8m jobs have been lost
Economist Monica de Bolle said the government’s distribution of emergency payments last year had been wise and partly effective, keeping millions of families and many businesses afloat. But the failure to combine that policy, which has now been dramatically scaled back, with an effective public health response had been disastrous.
“It’s really a terrible, terrible tragedy because we’ve wasted … the opportunity to bring this thing under control – and if we’d done that we wouldn’t be in the situation we are in now.”
Things are dire. Residents of Rio’s 1,000-plus favelas, home to perhaps 20% of its population, are facing tough times as rising food prices compound their woes.