Food Insecurity Rising Even Before Coronavirus: UN Report

New Delhi: United Nation’s fourth annual Global Report on Food Crises by the World Food Programme (WFP) and other partners found that food insecurity was already on the rise last year before the outbreak of the coronavirus crisis but now it is likely to further exacerbate the situation.

It found that 135 million people in 55 countries were in living in situations of acute food crises or outright humanitarian emergencies last year.

The increase by more than 20 million people takes it to a record level in the four years the report has been compiled.

Comparing the 50 countries in the reports this and last year, the number of people in food crisis rose by nearly 10 percent to 123 million people.

The increase was due to conflicts, economic shocks and weather-related events such as drought.

In Yemen and South Sudan, scarred by years of conflict, more than half of the population faces acute food shortages.

The report found another 183 million was at risk of slipping into food crisis “if confronted by an additional shock or stressor”.

Covid-19 could easily turn out to be such a shock, both as ill people overwhelm hospitals and governments impose lockdowns that have disrupted the economy and thrown people out of work.

“Covid-19 is potentially catastrophic for millions who are already hanging by a thread,” the WFP’s Senior Economist Arif Husain said in a statement.

“We must collectively act now to mitigate the impact of this global catastrophe,” he added.

While data collection for the report ended before the outbreak of the novel coronavirus outbreak, the authors of the report warned the pandemic will make the situation worse.

The 135 million people already considered to be food insecure “are the most vulnerable to the consequences of this pandemic as they have very limited or no capacity to cope with either the health or socioeconomic aspects of the shock,” the authors said calling for an urgent and coordinated response by the international community.

The report is compiled and published annually by a number of groups and aid organisations.

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