World on the brink of a ‘hunger pandemic’: coronavirus threatens to push millions into starvation
Poor communities around the world are sending a clear, urgent and repeated message: “Hunger may kill us before coronavirus”.
Combined with ongoing conflicts, spiraling inequality, and an escalating climate crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic has shaken an already broken food system to its foundations, leaving millions on the brink of starvation.
In the past months, we have taken extraordinary measures to try and bring the number of Covid-19 cases to zero. Now, we need a similar massive effort to reduce hunger to zero! Fueling hunger in an already hungry world In our deeply unequal world, millions of people are living in, and dying from, hunger every year. In 2020, 690 million people were estimated to be food insecure, of which 135 million suffered crisis level hunger or worse.
This crisis is not about a lack of food. These devastating hunger levels are a symptom of a broken food system that has allowed millions of people to go hungry on a planet that produces more than enough food for everyone.
The coronavirus pandemic has added fuel to the fire of this growing hunger crisis.
It has exacerbated existing inequalities and vulnerabilities while pushing millions of people into food insecurity as a result of spiraling unemployment and the economic disruption caused by the disease.
- Mass unemployment
- Food producers pushed to the brink
- Women disproportionately harmed
Even short-term famine can have a devastating long-term impact on a country and inhibit its economic progress for generations. People affected by chronic hunger and malnutrition are statistically more likely to live in lifetime poverty.
Extreme hunger hotspots Among countries and regions where the food crisis is most severe and getting worse because of the pandemic, some are particularly concerning: Yemen, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Afghanistan, Venezuela, the West African Sahel, Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria and Haiti. But new hunger hotspots are also emerging. Middle-income countries such as India, South Africa, and Brazil are experiencing rapidly rising levels of hunger.
More than 34 million people across the worst-affected countries are facing severe-to-extreme levels of food insecurity, some approaching famine-like conditions.
Urgent action is needed now In 2020 the UN had warned of famines of 'biblical proportions’ as a result of Covid-19 and the measures to contain it, projecting the number of people in crisis level hunger would rise to 270 million before the end of the year, an 82% increase since 2019.
Already 174 million people have reached that level and are at risk of dying from malnutrition or lack of food. This figure is only likely to rise in coming months if nothing is done immediately.
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