According to the United Nations, over a quarter of a billion people could starve due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Unless providing food and humanitarian aid becomes a priority fast, these millions of people in the most at-risk regions could die.
Approximately 130 million people were estimated to have suffered from lack of food last year. This year’s numbers could double, and around 265 million people across the globe are at risk of suffering from acute food shortages. “Covid-19 is potentially catastrophic for millions who are already hanging by a thread,” said Dr. Arif Husain, chief economist at the World Food Programme. Dr. Husain also pointed to how nation-wide lockdowns and economic crises affect those who can only eat if they can work and called for collective action.
A report put out by the World Food Programme, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, and 14 other organizations discussed how global hunger is shaping up to be the next big outcome of the COVID-19 crisis. The UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, called for the political will to address this issue. “At this time of immense global challenges, from conflicts to climate shocks to economic instability, we must redouble our efforts to defeat hunger and malnutrition. We have the tools and the knowhow. What we need is political will and sustained commitment by leaders and nations,” he wrote at the beginning of the report.
The report investigates healthcare systems and services in developing countries that are becoming even more overwhelmed by the pandemic as well as the disruption of food supply chains. The informal economy and refugees will be among those who are the most hard hit.
Sources: NPR, 4/21/20; Global Report on Food Crises, 2020; The Guardian, 4/21/20.