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Notes from a Field Officer: Hunger Grows in Venezuela, but also Hope

Capital District, Venezuela.

Humanitarian crisis

Venezuela has been in the midst of an economic and social crisis since 2013. The hyperinflation, violence, and lack of food security have an impact on the health of millions of Venezuelans. The humanitarian crisis has forced 5 million people to leave the country in search of a better life. The ones that have stayed are facing increasingly alarming financial hardship,

The severity of the economic crisis has destroyed the healthcare system. In consequence, diseases such as tuberculosis, diphtheria, measles, and malaria have resurged in the country. Moreover, most of the hospitals in the country are working at a fraction of their capacity, many without regular access to electricity or water.

Food crisis

Buying food at affordable prices is hard for most people in Venezuela. In the Latin-American country, 97% of the population suffers from food insecurity and 33% of the population suffers from severe food insecurity. According to the Global Network of Food Crisis, Venezuela ranks fourth in the world in food insecurity, after Yemen, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Afghanistan.

Food scarcity, paired with a hyperinflationary process, made the government reduce its control over fixed-price policies. As a result, since 2019 it is easier to find food in supermarkets, but not many can afford it. In fact, the cost for a basic monthly food basket for a family is $347.68 while the minimum monthly wage is $26, and the average monthly salary is $53 for workers, $100 for professionals, and $216 for technicians.

But not everything is bad news. 2022 has finally seen the end of the hyper-inflationary process in Venezuela. 2021 ended with an annual inflation rate of 686% while in 2020 it was 3000%. Still, Venezuela is the country with the highest inflation rate in the world.

Facing the Future

Venezuela, like many other countries, is complicated. Venezuela still doesn’t have a clear path to a better future, but millions of people are working toward the country’s recovery. To share a phrase from a Venezuelan physician who developed the vaccine to prevent leprosy, Dr. Jacinto Convit said “Whenever they throw a stone at us, we should throw a rose back at them, because love is the only antidote to hate.”