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Latin America tripled its severe food insecurity in 2020

Lima, Feb 23 (EFE) .- Latin America tripled its severe food insecurity in 2020 compared to the previous year and affected 10 million people, a situation that raises alerts about the lack of social safety nets in the region to mitigate the impact of the covid-19 pandemic. This was warned on Tuesday by the NGO Action Against Hunger, for whom “without solid protection networks in the form of subsidies, the disease is a condemnation of hunger for those who lived daily in the informal economy, have lost their jobs or find food every day. more and more expensive in the markets. ” According to the NGO report that was presented at a virtual conference, Latin America last year registered the largest relative increase in food insecurity in the world, a scenario that shows that the lack of protection nets is “building direct bridges between the covid-19 and hunger “. Specifically, the pandemic created 45 million new poor in the region, which accounts for almost a third of infections in the world despite having less than 10% of the world’s population, and led to ten million people in a situation of food insecurity severe, almost tripling the figure of 2019 when, according to the United Nations, there were 3.4 million. CENTRAL AMERICA The survey carried out by the NGO to 3,700 families in the rural communities of the Central American Dry Corridor, the area that stretches from Nicaragua to Guatemala, revealed that at least 3.9 million people are having difficulties to eat according to the minimum standards of quantity and quality, since only one in ten surveyed families reported having adequate food security. In addition, the study found an increase in income for the purchase of food, reaching 80% of the family budget. “More than 70% of families are forced to adopt survival strategies such as selling some of their possessions, applying for loans and sometimes even taking their children out of school,” explained Miguel Ángel García, director in Central America of Action Against Hunger. Socio-economic prejudices derived from the pandemic are added to the loss of crops caused by hurricanes Eta and Iota that hit large areas of Nicaragua, Guatemala and Honduras in November. However, García pointed out the need to improve support programs, which “are the key element that in circumstances like this can prevent millions of people from falling into poverty.” But the coverage of the “incipient social protection nets” in Central America is still “very uneven”, since García specified that while 50% of the Salvadoran families surveyed had some type of help from the State, the percentage in Guatemala fell 30% and in Honduras, 14%. PERU AND THE COMMON OLLAS In Peru, Action Against Hunger identified that 80% of respondents had lost their jobs or reduced their income by an average of 33%. According to América Arias, director of the NGO in Peru, the Andean country is “one of the most socially affected” by the pandemic because “it never got out of the first wave” of infections and, before the arrival of the covid -19, it already had 20% of its population poor or very poor. Now, three-quarters of the population is in a situation of food insecurity, a reality that affects “especially Venezuelan families” and that implies seeking alternatives such as “reducing the resources allocated to education, health and resorting to common pots “. Those community kitchens, mostly self-managed by women, reappeared in an improvised way as a kind of emergency neighborhood expression in the most vulnerable areas of Peru due to the lack of food, work and money. According to Arias, only Metropolitan Lima went from having registered 337 common pots to more than 1,300. “The pots depend on donations, which have been reduced” in recent months, lamented the director of Action Against Hunger in Peru, who also highlighted the “worrying reduction of iron in the diet, something essential to combat anemia” . COLOMBIA IN OVERCOMING The survey carried out in 34,000 households in Colombia revealed that 80% of the families, the majority Venezuelan, did not cover all their basic needs for food and housing and 20% did not have a stable source of income. In addition, as explained by the director of Action Against Hunger in Colombia, John Orlando, more than 58% of those surveyed “declared living in overcrowded conditions: 2.5 people live per room and in 13% of the cases they were identified up to five people per bedroom “. Orlando claimed the delivery of humanitarian assistance in cash as one of the most effective solutions to this situation as it is a “worthy alternative that gives families the option of choosing families over their urgent needs.” “They also allow the most vulnerable people to be formally linked to the local economy” and “humanitarian assistance is recirculated and strengthens the economy of the communities where these families live,” he insisted. (c) EFE Agency

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