- BBC World News
The UN World Food Program reached an agreement with the Venezuelan government to mitigate the food crisis that affects mainly children.
A UN Food Program (WFP) study published in 2020 estimated that one in three Venezuelans did not have access to a sufficient amount of food to meet minimum nutritional requirements and was “in need of help”.
Cases of child malnutrition have been increasing as the Venezuelan economy has entered a free fall and care services have ceased to be able to meet so much demand.
To deal with this situation, the WFP reached an agreement with the government of Nicolas Maduro that will allow this UN agency to provide food to school-age children.
Its objective? Feed 185,000 schoolchildren by the end of this year.
In an unusual gesture, the agreement with the WFP has been celebrated by both the Maduro government and the opposition, headed by Juan Guaidó, whom the United States and several dozen countries in the world recognize as interim president of the country.
The agreement was signed this Monday by Maduro and the general director of the WFA, David Beasley, who also met with Guaidó.
But, what exactly does the help that Venezuela will receive from the WFP consist of?
The WFP ranked Venezuela in 2020 as one of the four most food insecure countries in the world.
According to their study, based on a nationwide survey that included more than 8,000 people, the lack of diversity in the diet of Venezuelans it is a “great concern” because many families are not eating enough meat, fish, eggs, vegetables and fruits.
He points out that families live mainly on cereals, roots and tubers, to which they add legumes such as lentils and beans.
In parallel, doctors in the country have been reporting that severe malnutrition was influencing the increase in the infant mortality rate.
In the last four years, the Maduro government has not released figures on infant mortality, but a report from the Ministry of Health in 2017 showed that the deaths of children had grown 30% in relation to the previous year.
The then Health Minister, Antonieta Caporale, was fired shortly after these figures were released.
The UN Food Program will be established in Venezuela in order to meet the food needs of 1.5 million students by 2023.
According to the WFP, schools are the best way to reach communities “in an independent way.”
Initially, this assistance will focus on the most vulnerable children, those who are in preschool education or special education programs.
Maduro’s critics have accused him in the past of trying to use international aid to bolster his government’s position by delivering aid only to those who support his party.
The Venezuelan opposition has denounced the Maduro government’s own food subsidy plan, known as Clap, as a “grossly corrupt” program that benefits its supporters and as a way for government officials to make money from hugely priced contracts. .
This Monday, the executive director of the WFP, Beasley, thanked Maduro “for allowing us to be independent and not allowing anyone to politicize our work.”
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.