Launched in 2003, the Brazilian president’s initiative has contributed to combating hunger in Latin America’s largest country. Today, its neighbors are looking with interest at the possibility of importing a similar model to help them achieve lasting social equality.
Data from the FAO
The FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) has certified that Brazil has achieved its development objectives in terms of fighting hunger, with the number of undernourished people being reduced by nearly 10 million, from 22.8 million a 13.6 million, in just twenty years. Lula’s government’s declared objective was to effect a 50 percent reduction in the number of its citizens suffering from hunger, between 1990 and 2015. According to the FAO’s figures, that percentage is currently 54%. In 1990, some 15 percent of Brazil’s population went hungry. At the present time, it is just under seven percent.
With a budget of 500 million US dollars, Brazil’s Zero Hunger project has successfully reduced hunger, especially in the country’s poorest areas. A two-fold strategy was pursued. The “Bolsa Família” provided direct financial aid to the most disadvantaged families, and access to micro-credit was increased. Meanwhile, food was distributed directly to the poorest, so as to provide them access to essential nutrients.
The outcomes of the Zero Hunger (Fome Zero) Project
A research study undertaken by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) highlighted a 20 percent reduction in social inequality in Brazil since 2001, while a report commissioned by the World Bank called attention to a significant reduction in child labor among the children in the families that qualified for the “Bolsa Familiar”.
Exporting the Fome Zero project to other countries
Brazil’s neighbors are currently looking at how the Zero Hunger project might be applied to their own situation. In Venezuela, the government has launched a number of programs to combat hunger. The largest so far has been “Mision barrio adentro" (Mission Inside the Neighborhood), whose aim is to guarantee acceptable standards of food and health security in the most disadvantaged social contexts. While positive results have been reported in some of Venezuela’s favelas, the success-rate overall has been inconsistent. Argentina, Latin America’s second-largest country, has also launched a government program to combat hunger. This might seem somewhat incongruous, since the country, which already holds much potential for social innovation, has a population of just 40 million inhabitants, along with the potential for producing food for ten times that many.