ENCOVI 2017: A Staggering Hunger Crisis, in Cold, Hard Numbers

Two out of three Venezuelans are still losing weight. Almost nobody can afford enough food to eat. Virtually everyone depends on subsidized food distribution. ENCOVI 2017 brings harrowing precision to the scale of Venezuela's crisis

In 2014, a consortium of Venezuelan universities launched a yearly research project to rigorously document social conditions in the country. They called it Encovi —the Encuesta de Condiciones de Vida, or Living Conditions Survey. Last year, it surveyed 6,168 people nationwide, in detail, on a wide range of social matters: income, nutrition, education, personal safety, the state of their homes, etc.

It’s the kind of data that used to be public. As a matter of fact, the government still conducts a detailed yearly Household Survey — it’s just that it refuses to publish the results. 

Faced with official opacity, the universities had to pick up the slack. 

Encovi is our best data-driven look at social conditions in Venezuela today, a critical institution amid a drought of official data. Because while it’s easy enough to see it’s bad out there, “bad” ain’t good enough for Social Science: if you want to know how bad, you need data


The headline figure is that, by income, 87% of Venezuelans were poor in 2017. 

And a shocking 61.2% were living in Extreme Poverty.

In a high inflation economy, income poverty is almost impossible to get right: with prices doubling every month or two, it’s easy to see that many people’s incomes will be just above the poverty line right after a wage hike only to fall back below it in very little time. 

Amid this much economic instability, the indicator becomes finicky: your number can vary a lot depending on whether you do the survey a few days earlier or later. And if you set up your poverty line just a little bit differently, you can get a very different figure. 

But in a way none of the caveats matter, because whether it’s 87% or 91% or 93%, all of those translate to “basically everybody.” With inflation turning hyper in the last two months of last year, that “basically” soon becomes redundant: chavismo’s made everybody poor. 

This becomes painfully clear when you ask a stark question: “do you consider your family’s income enough to buy food to consume inside and outside the home?”

89.4% say “No.” 

People just don’t have enough money.

Continue reading: https://www.caracaschronicles.com/2018/02/21/encovi-2017/

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