The arrival of the pandemic in Colombia in March 2020 exacerbated the problem of food insecurity in the country. Although before covid-19, 88.9 percent of people had the possibility of eating three times a day, the figure dropped to 68 percent amid the initial lockdowns. The problem is that, three years later, Colombian consumption levels have not recovered and more than 2.1 million households only fill their stomachs twice a day.

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This and other aspects of how people feel, what expectations they have or their perception of security after the impact of the covid-19 situation on Colombian society, began to be measured by Danish in July 2020 through the Social Pulse Survey.

According to the latest data from this measurement from December 2022, 73.5 percent of Colombian households (6.2 million) eat an average of 3 times a day. However, 25.1 percent of them (2.1 million) only eat two meals. Another 1.5 percent eat only one (124,679) and 0.0 percent less than one (645).

Before the start of the quarantine, 88.9 percent of households (6.8 million) ate an average of 3 times a day; but in the midst of the confinement so that the virus did not spread, this figure dropped to 68.1 percent (5.2 million), that is, 1.6 million less.

The opposite happened with those who ate 2 meals. Although before the pandemic it was 10.6 percent of households (823,185 million), in the midst of a slowdown in the economy this figure rose to 29.2 percent (2.2 million households), with which, in just a few months, 1.4 million more found themselves in this situation.

The number of households that ate one meal a day also rose, from 0.4 to 2.6 percent, that is, from 34,353 to 203,741. The same as the number of those who have nothing to eat, which increased from 2,299 to 3,984.

The number of households that ate one meal a day also increased, from 0.4 to 2.6 percent, that is, from 34,353 to 203,741

These data coincide with the images that were spread of red rags hung on the windows of houses in different cities of the country as a sign that they were going hungry, since since everything was stopped they could not go out to work.

Fiscal policy was one of the most important instruments of the Iván Duque government to mitigate the effects of the economic crisis on families. In fact, in 2020, the Solidarity Income transfer more than 4.3 trillion pesos to 3.1 million households in conditions of vulnerability and poverty. In the same sense, five extraordinary transfers were executed for Familias en Acción and Jóvenes en Acción and nine for Colombia Mayor, as well as beneficiary of one million households with VAT compensation.

The increase in unemployment caused by the pandemic threatened to increase poverty and inequality in Colombia.


Cesar Melgarejo. TIME

In total, the Dane estimated that the emergency aid, the extraordinary ones, prevented 1.7 million more people from falling into monetary poverty in 2020. This means that if these additional subsidies have not been delivered, the percentage of the population in this the situation would not have been 42.5 percent that year, but would have reached 44.7 percent, that is, 2.2 points more.

Currently, the biggest problem is found in cities like Cartagena, Sincelejo and Florence, which are the ones with the highest percentage of households with only 2 meals a day. On the contrary, it happens in Bucaramanga and Barranquilla, which have the lowest percentages.

“It is a situation that must be addressed structurally in short-term support programs, monetary and non-monetary transfers. Already in the medium and long term, it is necessary to think about generating sustainable income that allows them to have a greater purchasing power”, commented Carlos Sepúlveda, professor of Economics at the Universidad del Rosario.

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To advance in this sense, from April people will be able to access the new Citizen Income program, which is a government initiative that seeks to benefit those families that are registered in Sisbén IV or are in a situation of extreme poverty.

Insecurity in Zona Rosa, Bogotá


Diego Lozano. TIME

lower security

Other points that were initially analyzed by the Social Pulse Survey and which have deteriorated is the perception of security. While 27.3 percent of people said they did not feel safe walking alone in their neighborhood at night in July 2020, the answer now rises to 36.9 percent. Moreover, the number of people who feel «very insecure» also increases, from 9.4 to 14.4 percent.

In terms of savings things are not better, because although in July 2020 64.1 percent of people said that they had no chance of saving any part of their income, in the last survey the figure was 74.7 percent.

Buying expectations have not warned so much either. Whereas in July 2020 only 1.7 percent said they were planning to buy a car, in the latest survey this figure was just 2.3 percent.

In terms of buy, build or remodel a home in the next two years something similar happens. It is maintained that 4 percent say yes and that more than 80 percent say no.

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In addition, people feel that their state of health is getting worse. After the lockdowns, 15 percent said it was very good and 60 percent good, now 12 and 56 percent, respectively.