top of page

1 .




Fernanda Cardillo and Nicole Fonseca

May 14, 2021

Image by Sigmund

Hunger has returned to haunt Brazilians. Brazil had left the Hunger Map  in 2013 with the wide reach of the Bolsa Família program – a study by Ipea (Institute for Applied Economic Research), when only 3.6% of Brazilians were in a serious food situation. However, the country returns to figure in the geopolitics of hunger.

The Hunger Map is a survey carried out by the UN (United Nations) on the global situation of food shortages. A country enters this survey when malnutrition affects 5% or more of its population.

The IBGE, which since 2018 has released the results of the Household Budget Survey (POF), reveals that four of every ten Brazilian families do not have regular and permanent access to a sufficient amount of food daily, according to the survey, these data represent 85 million people. Brazilians going through some kind of difficulty, of these 10 million reported being hungry. Worsening in households headed by women and blacks.  

The survey also shows that rural areas, and the North and Northeast regions have a high rate of food insecurity. This research shows us that the situation of hunger in the country has been worsening since before the COVID-19 pandemic, with the precariousness of employment; growth in unemployment among other factors that contributed to the return of hunger in millions of Brazilian homes.


However, with the arrival of the coronavirus, the hunger that was already growing last year surpassed the rates of the last decade. And that was only not worse because of the emergency aid, which 63% of beneficiaries used to buy food, according to a survey by the group "Food for Justice" of the Free University of Berlin, in partnership with the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG) and University of Brasília (UnB).  

Further explaining the lack of basics in the country, hand washing, which is one of the main recommendations for controlling the virus, depends on access to treated water. And that according to Instituto Trata Brasil, nearly 35 million Brazilians do not have access to this basic service. In this way, COVID-19 had the fundamental role of making it evident that despite Brazil being one of the largest economies, the nation still suffers from medieval problems, widening social inequality.

With measures to close trade, social isolation and lockdown, they forced the population to reinvent and innovate. With half the country in home office and the other half starving,  guess who needs to get out of the obvious to survive?

After all, the home office was only adopted by classes A and B. And there is no shortage of examples of people who lost their jobs and had to develop a new skill, such as sewing masks, producing sweets and even being exposed on the streets because of a face-to-face work.

Essay believes that the act of innovating comes with three pillars: Being sustainable, having a positive impact and the existence of an ROI (Return on Investment). Thus, the pandemic accelerated the process of innovation in companies that remained active, but left a mark on the country's economy.

Unemployment, which today reaches a rate of 14.5%, has brought a romanticization of the basics, dressing up as innovation. Earlier this year, an article told the story of a mother and two daughters who lived on the streets of Rio de Janeiro, and the report did not highlight the fact that this family lives on the streets, unemployment or extreme poverty, the highlight went to the the fact that they keep the sidewalk clean.

Another frightening report is about the return to the use of the wood stove, romanticizing the exchange of gas canister for wood stove  as a way to make food yield more, home economics and the replacement of basic items. This romanticization cannot be considered as a way of "thinking outside the box", since the rise in staple food prices cannot be seen with normality.

Innovation emerges as an answer to solving complex problems, which need great depth, understanding and testing, so that innovation can have its space. In cases like those of so many Brazilians, who are in need and suffer from the government's unpreparedness, it is very simple to point out that the solution would be to innovate. Once the basics are no longer accessible, it is because that individual has been deprived of other items and opportunities previously. With this, it is clear that the country is experiencing a return in different aspects, reaching the limit of poverty, which is made explicit by the return of Brazil on the hunger map.

Social innovation already existed before the COVID-19 pandemic, but gained even more strength during it. Big companies like Samsung have their own social innovation center. In the case of the smartphone company, there is the Open Innovation Center, which aims to identify and develop the best technologies and infrastructures thinking about the future. In this way, it connects innovative proposals with the expertise of the technology company. On the other hand, with the arrival of the new coronavirus, the third sector has suffered from the lack of donations and government support. Innovation in this field appears as a bridge between private initiatives and NGOs, generating a way of accelerating it.  

Thus, in an almost dystopian context like the current one, the population and companies need to unfold to survive. Acts of solidarity and collaboration, one of the main pillars of innovation, are what keep many going. With this, there is an almost oblivion of the existence of the State, making companies and NGOs assume its role. The question that remains is: And the government?

We have a provocation to do  on the next Peak.

receive weekly

bottom of page