A Closer Look at the Crisis in Venezuela

A Closer Look at the Crisis in Venezuela

How COVID-19 is Impacting the Worst Humanitarian Crisis in the Western Hemisphere


By Daniela Rubio and Jenny Shapiro | Program Manager, Senior Operations Specialist

Venezuela is currently the epicenter of the largest humanitarian crisis in Latin America. Once considered one of the richest countries in the region due to its oil reserves, over the past two decades it has moved toward the brink of economic collapse with conditions worsening rapidly since 2014.

More recently, international organizations have been reporting chronic shortages in access to food, power, healthcare and access to jobs. The ongoing socio-economic and political crisis in Venezuela continues to result in severe gaps and shortages in basic service provision and has led to over 4 million displaced people. The forthcoming 2020 Humanitarian Needs Overview and Humanitarian Response Plan for Venezuela will estimate that there will be 7.5 million people in need this year. Currently, an already fragile situation has only been exacerbated by the onset of the global COVID-19 pandemic as well.

Local data can help better allocate resources to those who need it the most. However, local political conditions deter international aid organizations and NGOs from collecting this type of information. Due to this, there is a need for innovative solutions like Premise to help local organizations get the data they so desperately need.

Premise has the capability to crowdsource sentiment data through our network in Venezuela. Local citizens answer surveys and provide important information on their knowledge, attitude and perception of certain topics to help key decision makers distributing aid navigate the challenging climate within the country.

Premise’s proprietary data includes a series of surveys on a variety of topics that helps to paint a picture of daily life in each of our country networks. The newest versions of these surveys have been collecting data on a monthly basis since January 1, 2020. In this blog, we will examine Premise’s data on key themes such as government, law enforcement, livelihood, healthcare and food security through the lens of gender to help understand the current situation in Venezuela. This is in line with a larger initiative from UNOCHA to increase the gender-based analysis of data in the humanitarian space as a critical means of understanding impacts and assuring equitable service delivery. We also hope to demonstrate whether or not COVID-19 has indeed acted as an amplifier of the humanitarian crisis.

Government and Law Enforcement Negative Sentiments Show a Spike Due COVID-19

Premise has collected almost 30,000 responses on surveys that ask contributors their sentiments on their national and local government.

One relevant learning is that 71% of contributors disagree or strongly disagree that their national and local governments are establishing public policies that enable a satisfactory standard of living for citizens and that the government is providing vital services such as clean water and reliable electricity in a satisfactory manner. In March 2020, there is a noticeable spike in negative sentiment responses possibly suggesting that the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic only served to strengthen an already pessimistic view of the government’s ability to enact effective responses to the needs of the public.

Following a similar pattern, over half of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that foreign intervention and/or NGO work is required to ensure basic services and security in Venezuela and 62% disagree or strongly disagree that their local government is preparing for future disasters or emergencies. This echoes a similar attitude regarding the ineffectiveness of government, with an observable uptick in March as COVID began to spread globally. Many stable country governments are currently struggling to deal with social, economic and political ramifications from coronavirus and so it stands to reason that these effects will only be magnified for a country in turmoil.

Data Suggests Gender Disparities On Social Equality, Jobs and Livelihoods Continue

Premise has collected just over 45,600 surveys on the topic of gender and social equality, as well as jobs and livelihoods, since January 1, 2020. 

Men Report More Positive Career Opportunities Than Women

The initial outlook on gender equality is high among our Venezuelan contributors with around 80% of respondents agreeing or strongly agreeing that women have the same social and political freedom as men and 75% affirming that women enjoy the same career opportunities as their male counterparts. When disaggregated for gender, however, men scored from 3 to 6 percentage points higher regarding positive outlooks on gender equality in Venezuela. 

Women Report a Higher Dissatisfaction with the Economy than Men

A similar pattern emerged when looking at sentiments on the Venezuelan economy. Overall, over half of respondents said they were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with current economic conditions, 64% disagreed or strongly disagreed with that there were enough good quality jobs available, and 80% of people felt that over the past year the number of people asking for food or money in public had increased or greatly increased over the past year. Women’s responses on average were 4 to 12 percent higher when it came to dissatisfaction with the economy, for example, 70% of women thought there were not enough good paying jobs as compared to 58% of men.

Food Security and Access to Healthcare in Turmoil for Venezuelans

Before the pandemic hit, due to the ongoing humanitarian situation, the Venezuelan health system was already in crisis. Many countries, like the United States and Spain, seen to have robust healthcare systems are currently struggling with the burden of addressing COVID-19 so it is imperative that we pay particular attention to countries that are even less equipped to handle this threat to public health.

Women’s Concerns Around the Affordability of Healthcare are Higher than Men

Premise received just over 57,500 responses on the issue of healthcare access. 66% of contributors were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with the affordability of medical or healthcare in their area. When disaggregated by gender, 72% of women reported overall dissatisfaction with the affordability of medical or healthcare as compared to 61% of men. 48% of respondents were similarly dissatisfied with access to healthcare locally.

Female respondents also displayed heightened health concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic as well. In a separate survey, when asked about levels of concern about coronavirus a higher percentage of women reported being very concerned as compared to men. When asked specifically about access to healthcare services should they contract COVID-19, 66% of men responded as concerned or very concerned as compared to 80% of women.

Men’s response to the level of concern about their access to healthcare services if they contract COVID-19.

Women’s response to the level of concern about their access to healthcare services if they contract COVID-19.

A Higher Percentage of Women Report that Food Prices Fluctuate Often

Women are often tasked with domestic duties including cooking and shopping and therefore may be more attuned to fluctuations in the price of food and other goods. Of the 28,650 responses on the topic of food security 63% of respondents disagreed or strongly disagreed with the notion that food prices did not fluctuate often, with 59% of men and 67% of women responding in this manner. 

The overall response to perception around the prices of food fluctuating often

Men’s response to perception around the prices of food fluctuating often

Women’s response to perception around the prices of food fluctuating often

Lack of access to food and medical supplies has been one of the most pressing issues facing Venezuelans during the period of economic decline so Premise continues to collect longitudinal sentiment data on these issues to track changes over time. 

If you would like to learn more about how Premise can help you gather the data you need, feel free to reach out at info@premise.com.

About Daniela Rubio and Jenny Shapiro

Daniela Rubio, as a Program Manager, works with Premise clients and partners during the implementation of programs and projects in the international development space. She works cross-functionally with different teams at Premise including growth, engineering and solutions to make sure all aspects of our projects run smoothly. She provides insights to the marketing team and supports the product and sales teams in customer discovery discussions with potential clients and partners. She has more than 10 years of global experience helping organizations and governments tackle complex problems with strategic thinking, partnership and cultural empathy.

Jenny Shaprio helps to design and implement data collection tools and manage Contributor networks for our international development programs, with a special focus on global health. She works closely alongside Premise program managers and country support specialists to ensure that our clients get the carefully localized data they need, as well as maintaining the overall quality of Premise networks and the Contributor experience.