Corona will worsen world hunger, while malnutrition facilitates increased vulnerability to the pandemic.
A recent report from the World Food Programme (WFP) and its partner organisations shows that, as 2019 ended, 135 million people in 55 countries and territories faced high levels of acute food insecurity and malnutrition due to various factors. Around 73 million were in Africa. While the report did not account for the Covid-19 pandemic when it was being drafted, WFP warns that the world could see a total of 265 million people being pushed into acute food insecurity.
The factors contributing to the rising food insecurity include conflict, economic hardships, displacement, extreme weathers, etc. Around 77 million cases of acute food insecurity in 22 countries arose due to conflicts; 24 million in eight countries due to economic shocks and 34 million in 25 countries due to weather extremes. With Covid-19 affecting livelihoods drastically—along with factors like drop in global remittances and disruption of food supply chains—the impact on world hunger could set progress back considerably.
The pandemic’s impact on populations that are chronically undernourished will be disproportionately higher, given how poor nutrition affects immunity and other aspects of health. With both rising food insecurity and lack of access to healthcare, maternal and child care will likely be affected adversely in many vulnerable nations, retarding growth and health for another generation. The report also notes that children dependent on daily school meals in these areas will be terribly affected in terms of nutrient intake, and this needs to be addressed by all stakeholders. Not only this, the pandemic has caused disruption in transportation of food and other critical goods due to movement restrictions. Governments and other stakeholders need to pay heed to food insecurity rising due to the Covid-19 pandemic.