Facing the need of knowing the past to understand the present and plan the future, we elaborated a recollection explaining the participation of civil society and the State in the formulation of the State Policy on Food and Nutrition Security in Ceará. This paper presents the results of a bibliographic survey conducted in books, articles, and newspapers addressing the theme of drought and famine in Ceará, as well as a semi-structured interview with the Advisers of the Food and Nutrition Security Council and members of the Human Right to Food. The (re)told story begins by recovering facts that are still unknown by most of Ceará’s inhabitants, such as the concentration camps during droughts, the formulation of the state policy on food security interspersed with social movements, strengthening of social participation, and the conquest of the right to food as a human right in Brazil and in Ceará. Despite these advancements, the continuity of this policy still has to overcome some challenges, such as investing in the quality of social participation, strengthening participation spaces, gaining political support, guaranteeing financing, giving visibility to legislation, and enforcing mechanisms that ensure the human right to adequate food.
Social Participation; Food and Nutrition Security; Public Policy
The participation of civil society in the public policies proposals initiated globally in the 1940s, aiming to reinforce democratic mechanisms shaken by the World Wars and expand the State’s responsibilities with their citizens (Testa, 1992TESTA, M. Pensar em saúde. Porto Alegre: Artes Médicas; Abrasco, 1992.). Despite that, in Brazil, the popular participation was of little expression on food and nutrition policies between 1940 and 1980 (Peliano, 2010PELIANO, A. Lições da história: avanços e retrocessos na trajetória das políticas públicas de combate à fome e pobreza no Brasil. In: ARANH, A. V. Fome Zero: uma história brasileira. Brasília, DF: MDS; Assessoria Fome Zero, 2010. p. 26-41. v. 1.).
In the Brazilian scenario, the history of food and nutrition policies initiated in the 1940s and reaches more visibility in 1970 with the approval of the II Programa Nacional de Alimentação e Nutrição (PRONAN) [II Food and Nutrition National Program], in which the emphasis was on actions to prevent malnutrition through food supplementation and food distribution. Such actions of welfare orientation had little association with other healthcare interventions. Symptomatically, the Brazilian New Constitution in 1988 did not incorporated the right to food among Brazilian citizen’s social rights (Peliano, 2010PELIANO, A. Lições da história: avanços e retrocessos na trajetória das políticas públicas de combate à fome e pobreza no Brasil. In: ARANH, A. V. Fome Zero: uma história brasileira. Brasília, DF: MDS; Assessoria Fome Zero, 2010. p. 26-41. v. 1.).
Participation and debate about starvation and malnutrition were structured in the 1980s, but only from 1990 onwards the civil society began to effectively question the overspecific and welfare-oriented government actions presented in these policies. The participation and social control in the 1990s were fundamental for the integration of many public policies, decentralization of the program execution, mobilization and creation of legal frameworks. Between 1998 and 2010, there were clear advances on the subject: in 2006, the Lei Orgânica de Segurança Alimentar e Nutricional (LOSAN) [Organic Law for Food and Nutrition Security] was instituted; in 2010, the Política Nacional de Segurança Alimentar e Nutricional (PNSAN) [National Policy for Food and Nutrition Security] was implemented; and finally the inclusion of the right to food in the Brazilian Federal Constitution, an institutional framework in the field of food and nutrition politics, resulting from the intense organization and participation of civil society (Peliano, 2010PELIANO, A. Lições da história: avanços e retrocessos na trajetória das políticas públicas de combate à fome e pobreza no Brasil. In: ARANH, A. V. Fome Zero: uma história brasileira. Brasília, DF: MDS; Assessoria Fome Zero, 2010. p. 26-41. v. 1.).
Historically, food security was introduced in the national political agenda in the 1950s by a pioneer work of the doctor and sociologist Josué de Castro, highlighting the famine as a social issue (Castro, 2005CASTRO, J. Geografia da fome. 5. ed. Rio de janeiro: Civilização Brasileira, 2005.). However, the issue would only return to the national scenario in its social dimension in the 1990s, with the Campanha da Ação da Cidadania Contra a Fome e a Miséria e pela Vida [Citizenship Action Campaign Against Hunger and Misery and for Life], coordinated by the sociologist Herbert de Souza, known as “Betinho”. From 2003 onwards, after more than 40 years of discontinuous food and nutrition policies, the food and nutrition security was treated clearly, with proposes adjusted to the complexity of the theme and integrated actions to deal with its multiple causes, which were instituted as public politics in 2010, after years of organized civil society struggle (Instituto Cidadania, 2001INSTITUTO CIDADANIA. Uma proposta de política de segurança alimentar para o Brasil. Brasília, DF: 2001.).
The Brazilian state, while approving the LOSAN, defined the food and nutrition security as:
[the] fulfillment of everyone’s right to a regular and permanent access to quality food, without compromising their access to other essential needs, having as the basis health-promoting nutritional practices that respect the cultural diversity and are environmentally, culturally, economically, and socially sustainable.24Our translation. (Brasil, 2006BRASIL. Lei nº 11.346, de 15 de setembro de 2006. Cria o Sistema Nacional de Segurança Alimentar e Nutricional - SISAN com vistas em assegurar o direito humano à alimentação adequada e dá outras providências. Diário Oficial da União: Brasília, DF, 18 set. 2006.)
Besides, the Sistema Nacional de Segurança Alimentar e Nutricional - SISAN [National System of Food and Nutrition Security] was instituted. In 2010, when the PNSAN was announced, aiming to guarantee adequate food as everyone’s right, the government assumed, through public policies, the challenging obligation of providing, promoting, protecting, inspecting, and monitoring food and nutrition security. It also instituted civil society’s participation and control mechanisms to demand this right (Burlandy; Magalhães; Frozi, 2013BURLANDY, L.; MAGALHAES, R.; FROZI, D. Políticas públicas de segurança alimentar e nutricional. In: ROCHA, C.; BURLANDY, L.; MAGALHÃES, R. Segurança alimentar e nutricional: perspectivas, aprendizados e desafios para as políticas públicas. Rio de Janeiro: Editora Fiocruz, 2013, p. 89-107.).
The right of being free from starvation and to have an adequate nutrition constitute the dimensions of the human right to adequate food (HRAF). The expression “human right to adequate food” is defined by the UN (1966ONU - ORGANIZAÇÃO DAS NAÇÕES UNIDAS. Pacto Internacional dos Direitos Econômicos, Sociais e Culturais. Nova York: ONU 1966.) as a:
The right to have regular, permanent and free access, either directly or by means of financial purchases, to quantitatively and qualitatively adequate and sufficient food corresponding to the cultural traditions of the people to which the consumer belongs, and which ensures a physical and mental, individual and collective, fulfilling and dignified life free of fear
This right must not to be guarantee through actions of charity or pity, but as an state obligation mediated by the condensation of the forces of a given society (Gramsci, 1999GRAMSCI, A. Cadernos do cárcere. Tradução: Carlos Nelson Coutinho. Rio de janeiro: Civilização Brasileira, 1999. v. 1.). The public policies must to be planned aiming to correspond the society’s demand and be effective in its various sectors. They are considered state actions of collective interest and should not be based on government’s authoritarian decisions; a process of reciprocity and antagonism must be established between State and civil society (Parada, 2006PARADA, E L. Política y políticas públicas. In: SARAVIA, E.; FERRAREZI, E. Políticas públicas. Brasília, DF: Escola Nacional de Administração Pública, 2006, p. 43-95.).
The construction of the PNSAN was a conquest for the organization and mobilization of social movements, non-governmental organizations, public managers, researchers, and other social actors concerning food and nutrition conditions of individuals, families, and community. Some of these movements, according to Maluf (2011MALUF, R. S. J. Segurança alimentar e nutricional. Petrópolis: Vozes, 2011.), began in the first half of the 20th century, an achievement that dialogues with the understanding of social participation in the perspective of Demo (2009DEMO, P. Participação é conquista: noções de política social participativa. 6. ed. São Paulo: Cortez, 2009.), who considers it as a fundamental principle of public policies, being a procedural and unfinished achievement, which requires social subjects’ commitment and involvement in the actions. However, changes in the population behavior regarding the revindication of social rights are needed, transforming conformism in organized and active participation. Participation is achievement, therefore, in constant transformation, always doing and redoing. Demo (2009DEMO, P. Participação é conquista: noções de política social participativa. 6. ed. São Paulo: Cortez, 2009.) considers the participation that considers itself as completed starts to regress.
The social policies are facing another period in which economic policies, geared by the interests of capital, are prioritized, and the compliance with social rights is neglected. The radicalization of the neoliberal model with the approval of the Constitutional Amendment n 95/2016 resulted in fewer resources for the population, generating the reduction of income and job offer, and the increase of social inequality. This situation directly affects FNS, mainly by the decrease of investments in programs that finance family farming, and the increase of the liberation of pesticides and retreat in the environmental preservation policies.
In Ceará the history of popular participation, understood as an intervention of the most disadvantaged people in the tension processes that seek for social policies answering their demands, takes place more visibly in Fortaleza in the 1970s and intensifies in the 1980s, with the so called “popular administration” of the Partido dos Trabalhadores [Workers Party] in the city government (Pereira; Ribeiro, 2009PEREIRA, E. M.; RIBEIRO, S. P. Participação popular nos marcos do capital: o projeto Raízes de Cidadania em questão. Mediações, Londrina, v. 14, n. 1, p. 237-259, 2009. DOI: 10.5433/2176-6665.2009v14n1p237
https://doi.org/10.5433/2176-6665.2009v1... ). Yet, in the late 1980s, the political option of state development, marked by a neoliberal administration, empowering the capital, and focused on industry and tourism, increased income concentration and unemployment both in the countryside and the city. Such model did not contribute to alter the social framework of persistent poverty and starvation (Sampaio, 2002SAMPAIO, J. L. F. Novas estratégias de combate à seca e à fome no Ceará: a construção de um poder. Mercator, Fortaleza, v. 1, n. 2, p. 27-39, 2002. DOI: 10.4215/rm.v1i2.179
https://doi.org/10.4215/rm.v1i2.179... ). Even facing this reality, the civil society organization and mobilization was decisive to include food and nutrition security in the in this state’s government agenda.
From the 1990s onwards, Ceará followed the national movement in the processes of formulating and implementing strategies and food and nutrition security policies. There was a marked mobilization of civil society regarding the implementation of a state policy of food and nutrition security, despite the little evidenced political support with a higher participation of non-governmental organizations and universities.
In this context, we seek to describe the role of civil society’s participation in the fight for the human right to food in Ceará, unveiling the struggles, the lessons learned, and reflecting about this journey possibilities, searching to maintain the conquests and advance in ensuring this right. This history permits to know how the civil society struggle took place in the construction of the Política Estadual de Segurança Alimentar e Nutricional no Ceará (PESAN Ceará) [State Policy of Food and Nutrition Security in Ceará] and its relation with the State, reflecting about the need for union, articulations and resistance discussion fors the permanence of actions for food and nutritional security (FNS).
This article is an excerpt from the thesis entitled “Conselho de Segurança Alimentar e Nutricional Ceará e a formulação da Política Estadual de Segurança Alimentar e Nutricional” [Food and Nutritional Security Council - Ceará and the formulation of State Policy of Food and Nutrition Security], which analyzed the participation of Food and Nutritional Security Council in the formulation of the State Policy of Food and Nutrition Security.
According to Baptista and Mattos (2015BAPTISTA, T. W. F.; MATTOS, R. A. Sobre Política (ou o que achamos pertinente refletir para analisar políticas). In: MATTOS, R. A.; BAPTISTA, T. W. F. Caminhos para análise das políticas de saúde. Porto Alegre: Rede Unida, 2015.), it is important that the analysis of policies take into consideration the context in which they were formulated, as a form of understanding the subjects that are a part of its history. The study had as its setting the Conselho Estadual de Segurança Alimentar e Nutricional no Ceará (CONSEA Ceará) [State Council for Food and Nutritional Security in Ceará].
Data production was carried out from August to October 2017, based on semi-structured interviews with representatives of the public power and civil society acting in CONSEA-CE. The interviews had as the central question: in your perception, which are the state’s civil society and CONSEA-CE contributions for the fight for food and nutrition security and the guarantee of the human rights to adequate food in Ceará? Besides, a bibliographic survey was conducted about droughts and famines in Ceará through book search, articles, and newspapers.
The subjects were 14 advisers, 10 representatives of civil society (named CS, CS1, ...), and 4 of the public power (PP, PP1,..). Among those representing civil society, 8 advisers of CONSEA-CE were interviewed and 2 former advisers, being one of them the president of CONSEA-CE and the other a former member of this council first term. The former advisers were included by their role in the construction of history of FNS in Ceará, not only by their role in the Council, but for their militancy in the political struggle for HRAF at state, federal and municipal levels.
Most of these subjects representing the civil society in CONSEA-CE were women (10), since 2003, year of its creation. These women had complete higher education in food, nutrition, library sciences, sociology, and social service areas. Besides, their family income varied between 4 and 20 minimum wages and represented the segments connected to industry; commerce and agriculture; networks and forums; association and social movements; teaching and research; people and traditional communities (only people of terreiro - Afro-Brazilian religions’ temple - and fishers); gender and generations; agroecological and organic farming; and human and social rights. Most subjects participated of other councils concomitantly (64,0%), and the represented institutions performed actions that aimed to ensure food and nutrition security (FNS).
The analysis was made by the technique of thematic analysis, following Minayo (2008MINAYO, M. C. S. O desafio do conhecimento: pesquisa qualitativa em saúde. São Paulo: HUCITEC, 2008.), and by the social participation category, according to Demo (2009DEMO, P. Participação é conquista: noções de política social participativa. 6. ed. São Paulo: Cortez, 2009.). The results are presented in a way that the bibliographic data are complemented with the interview data.
The study was approved by the Comitê de Ética em Pesquisa com Seres Humanos da Universidade Estadual do Ceará [Human Research Ethics Committee of State University of Ceará] under opinion no. 1.691.577/2016.
Results and discussion
In the bibliographic survey, the searches revealed critical periods of drought in the state of Ceará in the periods of 1877/1879; 1914/1915; 1932; 1979-1984, during which the creation of concentration camps in the years 1915 and 1932 was a remarkable and sad fact of the public policies to “prevent the famine” with little or no participation of the civil society. In the years of 1993, 1998, 2001, and 2015, drought returned and, besides the pressures and demands of the organized civil society for water and food guarantees, no structural actions by the public power were seen capable of minimizing countryside people’s suffering in these periods.
Concentration camps in Ceará: the cruel face of social exclusion
In the 19th and 20th centuries, Ceará’s population faced many drought periods marked, on the one side, by the strive for survival, and, on the other hand, by the exodus to its capital, Fortaleza, and other states. Ceará’s government omission in drought and famine prevention was evident during this period, as the rulers attributed the drought to natural causes. The population attributed the drought to the divine will, a fact also claimed by the government (Lacerda, 2006LACERDA, F. G. Entre o sertão e a floresta: natureza, cultura e experiências sociais de migrantes cearenses. Revista Brasileira de História, São Paulo, v. 26, n. 51, p. 197-225, 2006. DOI: 10.1590/S0102-01882006000100010
In a plein development of capitalism, during the cotton boom, the first drought was registered in Ceará, in 1877, which revealed many social problems. Fortaleza was occupied by lots of countryside people fleeing from the famine, the streets became full of beggars and sick people, which lived in the same place, distant from the capital, increasing the spread of diseases and deaths (Carapinima, 2015CARAPINIMA, J. Centenário da seca de 1915 no Ceará. Jornal Inverta, n. 478, 2015.). The grave situation of misery faced by the poor was described in the work of the writer Rodolfo Teófilo, who was impacted by the scenes seen during the drought and denounced the government negligence and the complicity of the bourgeoisie (O Legado, 2016O LEGADO de luta da Rodolfo Teófilo. Jornal Inverta, Rio de Janeiro, n. 483, 2016.).
The low in cotton prices made Ceará’s economy to enter into a crisis. The combination of the financial decline with the drought between 1877 and 1879 provoked great social and economic transformations, such as: undercapitalization, migration of countryside people to Fortaleza, and government and higher classes attempt to control the rural exodus. Government actions were slow and overspecific. Rains only occurred in April 1880. The moment was of local economy recuperation, and the rulers’ speech changed, becoming directed to the necessity of work and education to regenerate the misery faced by the countryside people. However, the welfare-oriented and exclusionary manner the situation was treated provoked more violent actions seeking social order and discipline, and then the famine acquired an important political dimension (Brito, 2013BRITO, L. A fome: retrato dos horrores das secas e migrações cearenses no final do século XIX. Estação Literária, Londrina, v. 10b, p. 111-125, 2013.).
Following this great famine, another came in 1915. Benjamin Liberato Barroso, the governor by the time, presented a solution to contain the thousands of countryside people that arrived every day in the regions with better life conditions: the creation of concentration camps in the area known as Alagadiço, in the suburbs of Fortaleza. During the period this camp was active (the year of 1915), 150 daily deaths were registered by the lack of hygiene and food. The news assumed a tone of revindication of government actions against the drought and famine in Ceará, alerting that the lack of bread and money was the fruit of politicians’ greed and uninterest in providing solutions. This was an attempt to sensitize the population that the countryside people would not be resigned to the suffering with conscience and orientation to act (Lacerda, 2006LACERDA, F. G. Entre o sertão e a floresta: natureza, cultura e experiências sociais de migrantes cearenses. Revista Brasileira de História, São Paulo, v. 26, n. 51, p. 197-225, 2006. DOI: 10.1590/S0102-01882006000100010
In 1932, another drought occurred, and, seventeen year later, Ceará’s governor Roberto Carneiro de Mendonça, with the then president Getúlio Vargas, expanded the previous experience, creating concentration camps in Fortaleza, in the neighborhoods of Otávio Bonfim and Moura Brasil, and strategic inland cities, such as Ipu, Quixeramobim, Senador Pompeu, Cariús, and Crato. The construction of these camps was part of the instituted policies against drought, which aimed to deliver food and health assistance. The structure and location of the camps were similar, having a medical station, kitchen, barbershop, chapel, and small houses separated by family. In Fortaleza, they were located close to the railway, making its access easy for people who arrived by train and impeded their entrance in other neighborhoods of the city (Rios, 2014RIOS, K S. Isolamento e poder: Fortaleza e os campos de concentração na Seca de 1932. Fortaleza: Imprensa Universitária, 2014.; Nóbrega, 2017NÓBREGA, J. Campos de concentração no Ceará. Diário do Nordeste, Fortaleza, 29 maio 2017. Disponível em: <Disponível em: https://bit.ly/3uB1hzW >. Acesso em: 20 jan. 2018.
In June 1932, the number of people in these camps totaled 73.918, and the camps in Pompeu, Crato, and Cariús were the most crowded. These concentration camps were nicknamed “currais do governo” (“government corrals”) because the inmates were impeded to leave and were active between March 1932 and April 1933; they were extinguished when the rains came back. The camps indeed served to concentrate thousands of countryside people, hungry, cornered, and distanced from the society, and to control the migration to the city of Fortaleza. In the confinement, many deaths occurred due to diseases and starvation, and not necessarily by the drought (Brito, 2013BRITO, L. A fome: retrato dos horrores das secas e migrações cearenses no final do século XIX. Estação Literária, Londrina, v. 10b, p. 111-125, 2013.; Rios, 2014RIOS, K S. Isolamento e poder: Fortaleza e os campos de concentração na Seca de 1932. Fortaleza: Imprensa Universitária, 2014.; Nóbrega, 2017NÓBREGA, J. Campos de concentração no Ceará. Diário do Nordeste, Fortaleza, 29 maio 2017. Disponível em: <Disponível em: https://bit.ly/3uB1hzW >. Acesso em: 20 jan. 2018.
https://bit.ly/3uB1hzW... ). The memory of the concentration camps to prevent starvation was reported by one of the interviewees, who revealed that this fact is unknown by most of Ceará’s inhabitants and even by those who fought for the FNS in the state.35In 2019, the concentration camp located at Senador Pompeu, in Ceará’s countryside, was recognized as a heritage site.
Drought is not only a climatic problem, but also a public power negligence, which executes inefficient projects to prevent the problem and do not recognize income concentration and social inequality as responsible for the situation (Brito, 2013BRITO, L. A fome: retrato dos horrores das secas e migrações cearenses no final do século XIX. Estação Literária, Londrina, v. 10b, p. 111-125, 2013.; Carapinima, 2015CARAPINIMA, J. Centenário da seca de 1915 no Ceará. Jornal Inverta, n. 478, 2015.). In fact, the government action represented that having or not what to eat was more divisive than the ethnic group; it divided the society not between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, but between those who starve and do not sleep because they are starving, and those who eat but do not sleep in fear of those who starve (Castro, 2005CASTRO, J. Geografia da fome. 5. ed. Rio de janeiro: Civilização Brasileira, 2005.). The novel “O Quinze” (The Fifteen), of the writer Raquel de Queiroz, describes the government neglect in protecting the rural people, and the importance and magnitude of the drought in Ceará’s Sertão, evidencing the authoritarian and exclusionary character of the government actions and the lack of political will to control the drought and starvation situation (Queiroz, 1982QUEIROZ, R. O quinze. 28. ed. Rio de Janeiro: J. Olímpio, 1982.).
Other droughts affected Brazil’s Northeast during the following decades. The larger started in 1979 and lasted for almost five years. Famine and looting spread through the region. About 3.5 million people died by diseases related to malnutrition, which again demonstrates that, without structural policies to reduce social inequality with income distribution, the construction of reservoirs or other water storage systems will not succeed in preventing the problem (Lacerda, 2006LACERDA, F. G. Entre o sertão e a floresta: natureza, cultura e experiências sociais de migrantes cearenses. Revista Brasileira de História, São Paulo, v. 26, n. 51, p. 197-225, 2006. DOI: 10.1590/S0102-01882006000100010
The government actions established in drought periods in Ceará to prevent famine and drought were welfare-oriented, overspecific, and exclusionary. They were marked by the low involvement of civil society, without structural actions that intervene according to Ceará’s families’ necessities and reality. Drought affected Ceará again in the periods of 1993-1998, 2001, and 2015. More than 100 years after its worst drought, in 1915, Ceará’s people still suffers in drought periods. The concentration camps were substituted by marginalized communities, living in unhealthy conditions, without any sanitation or access to jobs. Social exclusion reveals its cruelest face with total disregard to essential human rights, including the most basic right: the right to food. In this scenario, the first civil society movements in the state started in the 1970s, opening a period of struggles for this right.
Civil society and State on the road to formulate the Policy of Food and Nutrition Security in Ceará
In the 1970s, the first Ceará’s civil society actions to prevent famine were generated by the difficulty in finding seeds for countryside people subsistence, which was an answer to these people helplessness during droughts. Thus, the Diocese of Crateús created a Seed Bank, later called “Casas de Sementes Crioulas” [House of Native Seeds], which aimed at the storage and multiplication of important seeds to attend local necessities, rescuing and preserving species traditionally cultivated in the region and adapted to local conditions. The creation of seed banks emerged from a necessity of farmers, who, until then, had to work for free or resort to loans to acquire seeds. This action was important to promote autonomy, reducing the dependency on land owners, becoming a space to question the exploration, the poverty, and to strengthen social mobilization. The seed banks relieved the starvation situation of many countryside inhabitants (Esplar, 2017ESPLAR. Memórias do Esplar: o surgimento da rede de intercâmbio de sementes, 2017. Disponível em: <Disponível em: https://bit.ly/3wTLPR3 >. Acesso em: 21 jan. 2018.
The community was encouraged to store seeds, and when necessary any family associated could use them without costs, developing new seeds. When the lack of rain impeded a family from developing the seeds borrowed, they could wait one more year and add an extra number of seeds when returning them to the bank.
Between the years of 1970 and 1980, government actions to prevent famine in Ceará continued to be overspecific, practically around one secretariat, and food supply was only one component of the social programs, without a comprehension of the complexity around this question.
In 1993, there was the effervescence of the Campanha da Ação da Cidadania Contra a Fome e a Miséria e pela Vida, led by Herbert de Souza. This campaign created committees to prevent starvation all over Brazil (Arruda; Arruda, 2007ARRUDA, B. K. G.; ARRUDA, I. K. G.. Marcos referenciais da trajetória das políticas de alimentação e nutrição no Brasil. Revista Brasileira de Saúde Materno Infantil, Recife, v. 7, n. 3, p. 319-326, 2007. DOI: 10.1590/S1519-38292007000300011
https://doi.org/10.1590/S1519-3829200700... ; Costa; Pasqual, 2006COSTA, C. A.; PASQUAL, M. Participação e políticas públicas na segurança alimentar e nutricional no Brasil. In: GARCÉS, M. et al. Democracia y ciudadanía en el Mercosur. Santiago: LOM, 2006. p. 319-328.), which in Ceará involved the civil society and public agencies. There was an intense participation of the civil society, which was led by the professors of the Universidade Federal do Ceará [Federal University of Ceará] allied with associations of bank employees (Banco do Nordeste, Banco do Brasil, Banco Estadual do Ceará, Caixa Econômica), the Serviço Social do Comércio (SESC), trade unions (Central Única dos Trabalhadores - CUT), NGOs (Comitê de Entidades no Combate à Fome e Pela Vida/Rede Nacional de Mobilização Social - COEP/CE, Centro de Pesquisa e Assessoria - ESPLAR, Centro de Estudos do Trabalho e Assessoria ao Trabalhador - CETRA, Articulação do Semiárido Brasileiro - ASA, Caritas Brasileira, Pastoral da Criança), social movements (Movimento Sem Terra - MST); and state-owned enterprises (Instituto Nacional de Colonização e Reforma Agrária - INCRA, Empresa Brasileira de Pesquisa Agropecuária - EMBRAPA). The following interview reports this mobilization:
[...] the social movements, the NGOs, universities, I see as fundamental in this process of building food and nutrition security in Ceará, the civil society had a strong role, we raised discussions, established guidelines, created events, organized, sometimes, we were aided by the public power, but the civil society always led. (CS2, 2017)
This civil society organization was caused by the necessity to politicize starvation, the group was very engaged, generating discussions through interviews in the radio, lectures, meetings, and seminars alerting that starvation was not a natural phenomenon, but influenced by social and economic problems. This movement contributed to the creation of the state food security council, which was extinguished in 1994. The force of Ceará’s civil society, mainly through the Ação da Cidadania [Citizenship Action], mobilized 122 delegates, representing the civil society and the public power, to participate in the I Conferência Nacional de Segurança Alimentar [I National Conference of Food Security], held in Brasília on July 1994, which was the second largest delegation. Before the national conference, Ceará promoted in Fortaleza the I Conferência de Segurança Alimentar [I Conference of Food Security], which was preceded by regional conferences in Cariri, Sertão Central, Center-South, and Crateús to discuss the causes of starvation.
The theme of the first conference was “Fome, Questão Nacional” [Starvation, National Question], and its final report expressed concerns with land and income concentration, which was seen as the main determinants for starvation and misery in the country. There was a strong mobilization of the Brazilian states, mainly by the Ação da Cidadania committees and social movements of national level, such as the Central Única dos Trabalhadores (CUT) [Unified Worker’s Central], Confederação dos Trabalhadores na Agricultura (CONTAG) [Agriculture Worker Confederation] among others, together with their state level representants. Besides the mobilization, the conference left as legacy a set of resolutions to guide the next steps of the food security movement in the country. Due to the redefinition of social policies orientation caused by the change of the national government, which did not recognize starvation prevention as a priority, this legacy of great importance in the history of FNS policies was not put into practice (Menezes, 2010MENEZES, F. Mobilização social e participação da sociedade civil. In: ARANHA, A.V. Fome Zero: uma história brasileira. Brasília, DF: Ministério do Desenvolvimento Social e Combate à Fome, 2010. v. 1. p. 120-132.). Nevertheless, Ceará promoted four state conferences in 2004, 2007, 2011, and 2015, which preceded national food and nutrition security conferences.
Between 1995 and 1996, the actions of the civil society group related to the Ceará’s Ação da Cidadania motivated the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to choose Ceará for a pilot project concerning the municipalization of school meal. The city of Canindé was selected because it had many rural communities, in which was verified that if the food supply for school meals was directly provided by family farmers, the schools’ food necessities would be completely fulfilled. Such results were used to promote the use family farming products in Brazilian school meals many years later.
In a national level, with the election of the president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, in 2003, FNS became a priority again, which was materialized by the Programa Fome Zero (Zero Hunger Program). In this government, the higher political interest in social participation reactivated the National CONSEA, propelling the organization of many state and city councils, aiming to establish guidelines for local policies and to articulate civil society participation.
In this period, the Conselho Estadual de Segurança Alimentar e Nutricional - Ceará (CONSEA-CE) [State Council of Food and Nutrition Security - Ceará] was (re)created by the Decree n 27.008/2003, as an advice agency of Ceará’s government, integrating the Sistema Nacional de Segurança Alimentar e Nutricional (SISAN) [National System of Food and Nutrition Security], linked to the Secretaria do Trabalho e Desenvolvimento Social (STDS) [Secretariat of Work and Social Development].
In the first presidential election of CONSEA-CE, there was a remarkable dispute between representants of the public power and the civil society, which was decisive to begin a new FNS path in Ceará based on a process of sharing the powers between the civil society and the public power:
[...] the challenge was the relation government and civil society, due to the fact that CONSEA was mostly composed by civil society, this disturbed a lot because they thought that the council could not be like that ..., most of the councils continue to be composed mostly by the government, or half to half; then, this is not a matter of quantity, it is a question of power relations, I think that a discussion inaugurates where we open a space for discussion regarding the sharing of power and how much civil society has to contribute for the advancement of sovereignty and FNS political questions. (SC8, 2017)
Allied with the interest in civil society participation, this council was born strong, organized, and had as a differential the organization of monthly meetings. The challenge was the manner in which civil society members were defined, which initially were designated by the state governor, following the same procedure used to choose public power representants. The composition of the CONSEA Ceará is of 2/3 of civil society representants and 1/3 of the public power (CEARÁ, 2003CEARÁ.. Perfil da Segurança Alimentar no Estado do Ceará. Fortaleza: Secretaria do Trabalho e Desenvolvimento Social; IPECE, 2011.). Nowadays, there are 36 active advisors and 36 surrogates, most of which are members of civil society, including the president.
As a strategy to expand civil society participation in the FNS discussion, on 20 March 2003, the Fórum Cearense de Segurança Alimentar e Nutricional [Ceará’s Forum of Food and Nutrition Security] was created, now called Fórum Cearense de Soberania e Segurança Alimentar e Nutricional (FCSSAN) [Ceará’s Forum of Sovereignty and Food and Nutrition Security]. In the perception of the subjects, the creation of the CONSEA-CE interfered significantly in the forum’s action, which lost part of its leading role.
In 2004, the CONSEA-CE conducted, by a political articulation, a public audience in Fortaleza’s city council, presenting a FNS policy proposal for the city. It was the first time the theme was discussed in that city council. In the same period, a state deputy requested the elaboration of a law proposal for school meals, action coordinated by a civil society advisor. The proposal was elaborated and approved by the chamber, but vetoed by the governor, a decision perceived as determined by personal and market interests.
A relevant moment for FNS in Ceará was the training of social actors between 2004 and 2006 by the Projeto de Capacitação de Atores Sociais em Segurança Alimentar e Nutricional (CapacitaSAN) [Social actors training project in Food and Nutrition Security] promoted by the CONSEA Ceará, Ceará’s Forum of FNS, and the Rede de Educação Cidadã - Talher Ceará [Citizen Education Network - Talher Ceará], with financial support of the Ministério de Desenvolvimento Social (Ministry of Social Development). The training was conducted in 61 cities with the aim of stimulating the development of critical conscience to create participative FNS public policies in Ceará (Braga; Azevedo; Miranda, 2008BRAGA, E. F.; AZEVEDO, H. S.; MIRANDA, R. B. Caderno CapacitaSAN: uma experiência de formação de atores sociais em segurança alimentar e nutricional no Ceará. Fortaleza: Expressão Gráfica, 2008.).
In 2007, the III Conferência de Nacional SAN [III National Conference FNS] held in Fortaleza has as its central theme “Por um Desenvolvimento Sustentável com Soberania e SAN” [For a Sustainable Development with Sovereignty and FNS] and presented as priorities the implementation of a National FNS policy, the elaboration and monitoring of the Plano Nacional de Segurança Alimentar e Nutricional [Food and Nutrition Security National Plan], and the creation of the Fundo Nacional de Segurança Alimentar e Nutricional [National Fund for Food and Nutrition Security] (Brasil, 2008BRASIL. Assistência social e segurança alimentar e nutricional. Políticas Sociais: acompanhamento e análise, n. 16, p. 62-64, 2008.).
Another important action was the evaluation of the Programa da Alimentação Escolar (PNAE) [School meals Program] in Santana de Acaraú-CE, between 2008 and 2009, where the city management was already innovating, acquiring food from family farmers, which reduced the acquisition of industrial producers or other states’ markets. This experience anticipated the Law n 11.947/2009, which made compulsory the acquisition of at least 30% of the food used in PNAE from family farming, giving a preference for land reform farms, indigenous and quilombo communities.
The legal frameworks for FNS in Ceará were instituted in 2011 and 2012. In 2011, the state LOSAN (Law n 15.002/2011) was approved, which legislated about the creation of the SISAN, the guidelines for the State Plan for FNS, among other measures. In 2012, the Câmara Intersetorial de Segurança Alimentar e Nutricional (CAISAN-CE) [Intersectorial Chamber of Food Nutrition and Security] was regulated by the Decree n 30.843/2012, linked to the STDS. Nowadays, the CAISAN-CE is attached to the Secretaria de Proteção Social, Justiça, Cidadania, Mulheres e Direitos Humanos [Secretariat for the Social Protection, Justice, Citizenship, Women, and Human Rights], through the Célula de Segurança Alimentar e Nutricional (CSAN) [Food and Nutrition Security Cell]. With the installation of an FNS cell in STDS, there was an increase in the activities related to the state FNS policies.
Still in 2012, Ceará elaborated the first Plano de Segurança Alimentar e Nutricional (PLANSAN) [Plan of Food and Nutrition Security] for the period of 2012-2015, becoming one of the first states to implement such action. The second PLANSAN Ceará is related to the period 2016-2019. Since the legal frameworks were implemented, 41 cities from a total of 184 adhered to SISAN.
Among the achievements for social participation in CONSEA-CE, the choice of civil society representants is highlighted, which after 2014 was made through public notice, as well as the inclusion of traditional peoples and communities, following the guidelines of the Conferência Estadual de Segurança Alimentar e Nutricional [State Conference of Food and Nutrition Security].
Another important achievement for the social participation in the CONSEA-CE was the institution of the Política de Aquisição de Alimentos da Agricultura Familiar do Estado do Ceará [Ceará’s State Policy of Food acquisition from Family Agriculture] (Law n 15.910/2015), regulated by the Decree n 32.315/2017. The decree establishes the conduction of institutional purchases by means of public notice to attend the demands for food, and bidding procedures to acquire food supply services by agencies and entities ruled by the state government. It was also determined that food acquisition from family farming should be integrated to the Purchase System of the Ceará’s State Government, aiming to increase agility and transparency in the process of acquiring food for the state public management, as well as the supply from family farmers. Besides all the legal advancements, social control in the execution of the aforementioned policies should be strengthened by the CONSEA-CE.
The strengthening of food and nutrition security in Ceará was reflected in the decline of food insecurity revealed by the national household surveys (PNAD, 2004, 2009, 2014) (Brasil, 2004; 2009; 2014BRASIL. Pesquisa Nacional por Amostra de Domicílios: segurança alimentar 2013. Rio de Janeiro: IBGE, 2014.). However, the subjects are aware of the challenges to consolidate HRAF, and are highlighted the insufficient knowledge about the issue by a part of the society, the insufficient funding, the need of establishing enforceability mechanisms for this right, and the need to include HRAF in Ceará’s State Constitution.
This study revealed the leading role of civil society in building and strengthening FNS actions in Ceará, besides the low political support to manage such actions, which demonstrates the need of civil society’ surveillance to maintain the achievements.
Such affirmation is reinforced by the vulnerability of social participation in FNS policies facing a national scenario strongly affected by the extinction of the national CONSEA by Jair Bolsonaro’s government.
This study demonstrated the active participation of Ceará’s civil society in the struggle for HRAF. The formulation of food and nutrition security policies in Ceará underwent a significant institutionalization process, in which civil society participation was decisive. An advancement in the consolidation of this policy was perceived, and the inclusion of food and nutrition security in the governmental agenda was an important step in this area’s public management. Civil society participation and organization throughout the years was decisive for food and nutrition security receiving more space in the state’s public scene, and for the creation of CONSEA-CE and the development of legal frameworks essential for the right to food in Ceará.
Besides the achievements, there is still a lot to do. In a last analysis, this fact reveals that as FNS is institutionalized in Brazil, Ceará seeks to overcome power relations and the lack of political interest. Even with the advancements in the institutionalization of FNS in Ceará, the public management still presents lack of political interest to overcome food insecurity in the state, following the national development model of reducing the investment in social policies, promoting income concentration.
Civil society organization, in the sense of acquiring and expanding its social and political capacity to effectively interfere in Ceará’s government agenda, should invest in the participation quality, the strengthening of participative spaces, achieving political support, fighting for funding guarantees, giving more visibility to the legislation and the enforceability mechanisms, comprehending the complexity of this challenge, but its essentiality to advance the HRAF.
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- 3This article is a result of the doctoral thesis named “Conselho de Segurança Alimentar e Nutricional Ceará e a formulação da Política Estadual de Segurança Alimentar e Nutricional” [Food and Nutritional Security Council - Ceará and the formulation of State Policy of Food and Nutrition Security] developed by the first author in the Graduate Program in Public Health of the Universidade Estadual do Ceará.
- 4Our translation.
- 5In 2019, the concentration camp located at Senador Pompeu, in Ceará’s countryside, was recognized as a heritage site.
- Publication in this collection
23 Aug 2021
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19 Dec 2019
29 Apr 2021