The United Nations World Food Programme estimates that COVID-19 will double the number of people suffering from a food crisis to 265 million. However, the threats to global food security can be minimized with global leadership.
Five Major Threats Posed by COVID-19 to Global Food Security
- Nations with poor health infrastructure and limited government capacity.
- Nations with little to no safety net for citizens in the midst of a pandemic.
- COVID-19 may prove especially deadly to those already suffering from extreme malnutrition and lack of access to food services.
- Food shortages and food price spikes if swift action is not taken.
- The global economy to slow or fall into a recession, exacerbating extreme poverty and hunger.
Source: World Food Program USA.
- The Global Report of the Food Crisis of 2019 indicated that 135 million people in 55 countries and territories faced acute food insecurity and required urgent action.
- Ten countries constituted the worst food crises in 2019: Yemen, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Afghanistan, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), Ethiopia, South Sudan, Syria, Sudan, Nigeria and Haiti.
- Less than 20% of people living in low-income countries have access to social protections of any kind, even fewer have access to food-based safety nets.
- In many developing countries, millions of families already spend upwards of half of their income on food in normal circumstances.
Urgent Action Required
A recent letter sent to world leaders with signatories comprising of major business owners, workers in the food industry and farmers groups, asked to “design COVID-19 response measures that minimize the risks of global and regional food security crises in the coming months.” The letter highlighted three key areas:
- Keep the supply of food flowing across the world by maintaining open trade.
- Scale the support of the most vulnerable by ensuring nutritious and affordable food for all.
- Invest in sustainable food systems, including sowing seeds for the recovery of people and the planet.
Pre-pandemic numbers of individuals in Africa who are most affected by food insecurity.
Actions Taken to Address Food Insecurity During COVID-19
- With assistance from Sawiris Foundation for Social Development, the World Food Programme implemented its “1,000 Days of Life” Program to ensure that vulnerable pregnant women and nursing mothers in Egypt have access to food amidst the pandemic.
- The World Bank works with countries on an individual level to monitor food supply chains and ensure that individuals in developing nations are able to buy food throughout the pandemic.
- As of September 2020, USAID and the World Food Programme are providing relief to over 100,000 urban residents in Zimbabwe to help ease food insecurity during COVID-19.
Nobel Peace Prize 2020
Due to its outstanding work with providing food to vulnerable countries during the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Food Programme received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2020. Read more about its accomplishments here.