In a new sign that Venezuela’s financial crisis is morphing dangerously into a humanitarian one, a new nationwide survey shows that in the past year nearly 75 percent of the population lost an average of 19 pounds for lack of food.
The extreme poor said they dropped even more weight than that.
The 2016 Living Conditions Survey (Encovi, for its name in Spanish), conducted among 6,500 families, also found that as many as 32.5 percent eat only once or twice a day — the figure was 11.3 just a year ago.
In all, 82 percent of the nation’s households live in poverty, the study found.
Venezuelans suffer shortages of the most basic goods, from food to medicine, amid triple-digit inflation and a nearly 80 percent currency collapse in the last year.
A whopping 93.3 percent told Encovi researchers that their income was not enough to cover their food needs, which would explain why Venezuelans are replacing red and white meat with vegetables and tubers, mainly potato, and other cheaper options.
“There is a change in eating habits patterns from 2014 [when Encovi surveys began]. Previously Venezuelans consumed primarily rice, breads and pastas; now it’s tubers,” said Maritza Landaeta, a researcher with the Venezuelan Health Observatory, as quoted by runrun.es.
“In our qualitative studies we observed mothers who say that they fed their children only with bananas or auyamas [a kind of pumpkin] to satisfy their feeding needs,” she said.
Additionally, 65 percent of those surveyed admitted having children at home who had skipped school for food-related reasons — including filling in for their parents in the long food lines.