The Commission for Human Rights in the State of Zulia (Codhez) carried out a second survey on food consumption in the region of Zulia between May 10 and 17 to know what the zulianos diet consists on, daily food consumption, or strategies for its acquisition among other situations related to access to food during the quarantine due to COVID-19.
Since the results for this survey on survival strategies were contrasted to food consumption habits, Codhez declares that most families from the towns of Cabimas, Lagunillas, Maracaibo and San Francisco have serious difficulties in reaching a certain diversity in their diets despite their intense sacrifices, which consist on adopting quality changes in their diets, rationing their meals, diminishing the number of people that can eat at home or develop some adaptations to be able to access food.
While exploring these strategies adopted by the families from Cabimas to access food, Codhez observes an 89% surpassing the extreme negative adaptations threshold, while an 11% presents food insecurity. In Lagunillas, a 76% surpasses the extreme negative adaptations threshold, a 6% experiences food insecurity and a 18% is at risk of suffering from it. In general terms, no home in these towns would be in a “normal” situation.
On the other hand, 60% homes in Maracaibo surpass the extreme negative adaptations threshold, while an 11% present food insecurity and a 20% are at risk of suffering from it. Thus, in general terms, 91% homes experience serious difficulties to access food, having to adopt survival strategies to maintain a basic consumption. Barely 9% homes would be in a “normal” situation.
This survey, developed through an online questionnaire, indicates that home sacrifices have intensified, and food diversity and food consumption indexes’ scores do not improve. In the first survey developed by Codhez between April 19 and 26, 79% homes in Maracaibo were forced to adopt survival strategies to consume food.
89% homes in Cabimas must adopt extreme measures to survive.
In Cabimas, families have adopted consumption strategies to survive. 89% homes surpass the extreme negative adaptations threshold, while an 11% presents food insecurity.
Eating only once a day or not at all for the whole day is a situation present at least once a week in 63% homes: in 42% cases, two or three times a week, and in an 11%, every day.
Other largely reported strategies were: borrowing food (84%), eating depending on neighbor, friends and/or relatives help (74%) and spending home savings in food (79%). Meanwhile, food purchase habits are distributed as followed: 26% homes in Cabimas buy food daily, while 74% do it between once and four times a week.
As for daily food in Cabimas households, consumption of cereals prevails: this means arepa, pasta, bread, rice, and corn or wheat flour among others (89%), beans(74%), and oil and fat (68%).
Overall, 47% homes scored high diversity, consuming between 6 and 11 food categories: 21% a medium diversity, consuming between 4 and 5 categories, and 32% low diversity, consuming less than 3 food categories.
Daily expenditure of savings to purchase food was reported in 65% homes in Lagunillas.
In Lagunillas, 76% homes surpass the extreme negative adaptations threshold, while a 6% presents food insecurity, and 18% is at risks of suffering from it. Overall, all homes in Lagunillas responding this survey reported serious struggles to access food.
Eating only once a day or not at all for the whole day is a situation present at least once a week in 53% homes: a 41% between one and three times a week and in 12% from five to seven times. Specifically, 65% homes are forced to daily spend their savings to buy food: this is the highest rate in comparison to Cabimas (53%), Maracaibo (51%), and San Francisco (41%).
What is more, 41% homes reported purchasing food only once a week and 29% does daily grocery shopping. Due to fuel scarcity, 59% households must walk to the grocery shops.
According to the answers of its inhabitants, Lagunillas reported a pronounced daily consumption of cereals (94%). In second place, beans consumption outstands (82%), the highest in comparison with the other surveyed towns.
Diversity in food consumption was reduced from a 81% to a 55% in Maracaibo.
In Maracaibo, consumption of arepa, pasta, bread, rice, and corn and wheat flours still outstands (95%). It outstands the consumption of banana and tubers as well (67%).
Overall, 55% homes scored a high diversity, consuming between 6 and 11 food categories: a 27% medium diversity, consuming between 4 and 5 categories, and a 18% low diversity, consuming less than 3 food categories. In the survey between April 19 and 26, the results highlighted a different panorama: 81% homes scored high diversity; 14% medium diversity and 5% low diversity. Even though the tendency towards a high diversity is decreasing, this is due to the experience of middle-class homes, that must develop adaptations to access food when their resources are not enough.
Eating only once a day or not at all for the whole day is a present situation for at least once a week in 35% homes. Most reported strategies related to living means were: spending of savings on food (84%), followed by sale or exchange of personal belongings in to buy or in exchange for food (50%).
Regarding food purchase, 71.4% households buy food between once and three times a week. Fuel scarcity obliges 76% families to walk to the grocery shops, unlike an 18%, that reported using their vehicle.
In San Francisco 16% started having one less meal a day.
In San Francisco it can be observed that daily consumption of food is based on cereals (94%). It outstands that 57% households reported banana and tuber consumption, meat proteins (including entrails), eggs and beans.
Regarding weekly consumption, the score is acceptable in 49% homes, limited in 27%, and poor in 24%. Overall, 43% homes scored high diversity, consuming between 6 and 11 categories of food: 41% a medium diversity, consuming between 4 and 5 categories, and 16% low diversity, consuming less than 3 categories of food.
While examining the strategies adopted by families in San Francisco to access food, it is found that 71% overpasses the extreme negative adaptations threshold, while a 16% presents food insecurity, and a 10% is at risk of suffering from it.
Thereunder, it is outstood that 73% homes claimed having stopped having breakfast, lunch, or dinner at least once a week, while 16% did it every day. Other strategies related to means of living reported were: spending of savings on food (86%), sale or exchange of personal belongings to buy or in exchange of food (61%) and working in exchange of food (57%).
With regard to weekly food purchase, 74.5% homes reported doing it once a week. Due to fuel scarcity, 84% families walk to the grocery shops: 23% walk up to 100 meters (328.08 ft), 35% between 1.001 and 5.000 meters (0.62 – 3.11 miles), and 7% must walk more than 5.000 meters (3.11 miles) to purchase food.
Actions to guarantee the right to an adequate diet are imperative.
The results of this survey on food consumption and security give evidence of the fragility – in an increasingly precarious context – of household economy in zuliano homes to face expenditure in food that is added to other basic necessities such as drinking water or medicines. In this sense, it is urgent the design and implementation of a compensations program that guarantees the right to not starve.
In the current circumstances, more than ten weeks after the state of alert was declared in the whole country, Codhez reiterates that the Venezuelan State must urgently design and implement a plan to immediately and efficiently answer this food insecurity, paying special attention to more vulnerable communities.