The life of the Brazilian people, without a doubt, has changed for the worse. With the health crisis caused by the new coronavirus, people living in situations of social vulnerability were even more affected. In the northern region of the country, 67% experienced the pain of knowing whether or not they would have food on their plate. In one of the largest stilt houses in Brazil, Vila da Barca, located close to one of the most expensive neighborhoods in the city, several families are experiencing this pain and also the deprivation of rights due to the lack of water, sewage and electricity.
Stilts are dwellings supported by stilts on the banks of a river or marshy area. The unemployed Mariele Souza do Socorro is one of the residents of the space. In the house with only three rooms, she lives with six people and says that in addition to the problems already mentioned, times have been even more difficult with the increase in food prices, even soup she is no longer able to make.
If there’s flour, we make porridge, we’ve already had food at lunch, but not at dinner, because the soup we used to eat in the past isn’t good enough either. Have you thought about paying R$ 11 a kilo of bone? That’s what we’re paying for. The beans, we only throw them on the fire with seasoning, because we can’t put a jerky inside or a meat to give them a taste, it’s just the seasoned beans”.
In addition to integrating the statistic of people who suffer from food insecurity, it also integrates the discouraged, which are people who gave up looking for work: 5,952 million in 2021, with an increase of 26.8%, that is, 1.259 million people between 2020 to 2021, according to data from the Continuous National Household Sample Survey (PNAD), released in April this year.
Among women, unemployment increased from 13.9% to 16.8% in 2021. For Mariele Souza, who worked as a housemaid and seamstress, in addition to the difficulty of buying food, looking for a job and not finding it is very difficult.
“It’s a feeling of sadness. It’s very sad to open the refrigerator and have nothing, and even sadder when we go looking for some activity, some job, some job and don’t find it. We still go home. sadder looking at the grandchildren, looking at the children, looking at the mother, family and friends and knowing that everyone is in the same situation”.
To get around the fact that she doesn’t have food and a job, Mariele says that when she gets some money, she divides what little she has into small meals, so that it is possible to give at least one spoonful of food to each member of the household.
“One, two spoons for each one so as not to leave the stomach empty, but that you can actually fill it or say: – I had dinner, no. It’s just a little for each, just so as not to say that I didn’t eat”.
The Extended National Consumer Price Index (IPCA – the country’s official inflation) rose from 7.11% to 7.27% in 2021, the 21st consecutive rise in the projection and the scenario for the future does not improve: for 2022, the inflation estimate is 3.95%. For 2023 and 2024, the forecasts are 3.25% and 3%, respectively.
Leaving the market percentages and feeling in practice what this means, Dona Maria Madalena reflects the increase in inflation in Brazil.
“In the past, you used to pay R$100 at the fair, you brought a lot of stuff. Now it’s change, you thought we’d give R$30 a kilo of meat in a house where there are many people, you can only taste it,” she says.
Gas or food?
As of this Wednesday (1), cooking gas is already costing 7% more expensive for Brazilian consumers due to an adjustment made by the product’s distributors. In Belém do Pará, the price of gas costs, on average, R$ 116.00, according to data from the Inter-Union Department of Statistics and Socioeconomic Studies (Dieese-Julho-2021).
In the house of retired Cleonice da Silva, 80, the precariousness reached the point of having to choose between buying gas and buying food.
“Some days they say: – There’s only gas. I answer: – So, let’s buy gas, because we buy gas, then there’s a flour, we make a porridge and drink it, because if you get one flour and gas, we have nothing”.
The lady who is blind lives in the space with her husband, two children and seven pets that she shelters there. Asked if she went hungry during the pandemic, Dona Cleonice says that, unfortunately, she already had to sleep to cheat her hunger.
“Have you ever thought we want to eat and not have it? When we have, there’s that little bit so we don’t sleep hungry. When we don’t, we go to bed and sleep. There’s nothing worse in the world than sleeping hungry.”
Special Hunger in Brazil
Project coordination: Mariana Pitasse and Rodrigo Chagas | Edition: Kátia Marko, Monyse Ravena, Fredi Vasconcelos, Vanessa Gonzaga, Larissa Costa, Leandro Melito, Mariana Pitasse and Rodrigo Chagas | Report: Eduardo Miranda, Jaqueline Deister, Wallace Oliveira, Ayrton Centeno, Vinícius Sobreira, Lucila Bezerra, Giorgia Prates, Pedro Carrano, Ana Carolina Caldas, Marcelo Gomes, Francisco Barbosa, Pedro Rafael Vilela, Murilo Pajolla, Pedro Stropasolas and Daniel Giovanaz | Visual identity: Fernando Bertolo | Art: Michele Gonçalves | Radio: Camila Salmazio, Geisa Marques, Douglas Matos, Daniel Lamir, Adilson Oliveira, André Paroche and Lua Gatinoni | Audio-visual: Marina Rara, Isa Chedid, Leonardo Rodrigues and Jorge Mendes | Social networks: Cris Rodrigues, Larissa Guold, Guilherme Faro Bonan, Joanne Motta and Vitor Shimomura | Journalism Coordination: Rodrigo Durão | CPMídias Direction: Lucio Centeno and Nina Fideles.
Edition: Vivian Virissimo