VENEZUELA: The United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP) in new a deal with the government of Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela, South America is to provide food to the country’s schoolchildren.
Venezuela’s once-prosperous economy has gone for a toss and health services have collapsed, which has led to a rise in child malnutrition. Amid the crisis, more than 5.3 million Venezuelans have fled their home country.
A study by the World Food Programme published in 2020 said many Venezuelans were not able to meet minimum nutrition requirements and their lack of dietary diversity was of major concern.
Venezuela was placed among the top four countries worldwide suffering from food insecurity in a 2020 WFP report. Doctors too claimed that rates of infant mortality rate are on the rise due to severe malnutrition.
The World Food Programme aims to set up its presence in Venezuela and provide daily meals to 1.5m students by the end of 2023 focusing on the most vulnerable children, those in pre-primary and special education schools as schools are the best way to reach communities.
In the past, critics of President Maduro have accused him of trying to use international aid to aid only those who back his party.
Clap, the government’s own food subsidy scheme, has been denounced by US officials for being corrupted and a source of money from vastly overvalued contracts for government officials. WFP Executive Director David Beasley thanked President Maduro “for allowing us to be independent and to not let any of our work be politicized by anybody”.
How did the situation worsen?
During the presidency of Hugo Chávez, until his death in 2013, he had promised to curb Venezuela’s huge levels of inequality. Although to some extent he managed to reduce inequality during his time in power, the economic situation worsened with his socialist policies ever since.
Earlier rampant hyperinflation had made the local currency, the bolivar, almost worthless. And while more goods are now available again as traders set prices in dollars, they have again become largely unaffordable to the poor or those without access to the US currency.