World in the grip of Hunger; Acute food shortage looms large

About 25 countries are set to face devastating levels of hunger in coming months, along with the low and middle income countries because of the fallout from the Coronavirus pandemic, according to the Early Warning Analysis of Acute Food Security Hotspots, compiled by the World Food Programme and the Food and Agriculture Organisation.

The report said that no region in the world is immune to the devastating crisis, from Afghanistan and Bangladesh in Asia, to Haiti, Venezuela and Central America, to Iraq, Lebanon, Sudan and Syria in the Middle East to Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Liberia Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Mozambique, Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe in Africa.

FAO Director-General QU Dongyu said that these countries were already grappling with high levels of food insecurity and acute hunger even before the pandemic. “Now they are on the frontline and bearing the brunt of COVID-19’s disruptive effects on food systems, which are fuelling a hunger crisis within a health crisis,” he said.

“We must not think of this as a risk that will emerge sometime down the line.  We cannot treat this as tomorrow’s problem. We need to do more to safeguard both food systems and our most vulnerable populations – right now,” he said.

“Three months ago at the UN Security Council, I told world leaders that we ran the risk of a famine of biblical proportions,” said WFP Executive Director David Beasley. “Today, our latest data tell us that, since then, millions of the world’s very poorest families have been forced even closer to the abyss. Livelihoods are being destroyed at an unprecedented rate and now their lives are in imminent danger from starvation. Make no mistake – if we do not act now to end this pandemic of human suffering, many people will die,” Beasley said.

The FAO and WFP say that COVID-19 is pushing people into deeper hunger through

  • Dropping employment and wages. People have less money to spend on household food and that overseas workers send to relatives in food insecure countries as remittances. At the same time, food prices are up in many hotspot countries, posing a barrier to food access.
  • A range of disruptions associated with necessary pandemic and health countermeasures are also having significant – and increasing – impacts on food production and supply.
  • Plummeting government revenues
  • protection and school feeding programs underfunded and unable to respond to growing needs.
  • Finally, the pandemic may contribute to political instability as well as fuelling conflict, for example between communities over natural re

Apart from these, farmers were also having problems with reporting numerous challenges in accessing seeds that leads to reduced planting.

The WFP, as part of overcoming the crisis has scaled up to provide food assistance to an unprecedented 138 million people. The FAO has made an appeal for 428.5 million dollars under the UN system’s Global Humanitarian Response Plan for COVID-19 for addressing the mounting needs in the food and agriculture sector.

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