Welcome to Brazil. Survive if you can 

The stereotype of a colorful and hospitable Brazil is slowly waning. Across the country, particularly after the Covid pandemic, the country is starving. And under the current government, little has been done to change that. 

The Brazilian Report launched a special report this week with an in-depth look at Brazil’s hunger epidemic. Our reporters spoke to people from all over the country, hearing their heart-wrenching stories of not being able to put food on the table and provide for their families. 

Over one-third of Brazilians do not have enough food to eat at least one meal a day, while around 4 percent of children suffer from malnutrition. Community projects to assist the neediest populations rely on volunteers and donations — and neither of which are particularly sustainable.

In 2019, President Jair Bolsonaro claimed that those who say that hunger still exists in Brazil are “lying.” But the numbers are impossible to ignore.

Brazil’s lowest rate of hunger among its population was 4.2 percent, reached in 2013 — when the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) removed the country from its Hunger Map, news that was greatly celebrated around the country. Brazil was growing and there was a real belief that things would get better — but that wasn’t the case.

Two economic recessions and a deadly pandemic followed. If the FAO’s Hunger Map still used the same parameters as it did in 2013, Brazil would certainly be back on it.

It is fair to say Brazil has taken steps backward under the current government and during the pandemic. More poverty, inequality, and starvation, and fewer perspectives, and opportunities. Together, they paint a picture of what Brazil has become. 

Read The Brazilian Report special report and listen to the Explaining Brazil podcast about how hunger figures are once again haunting Brazil.