Covid-19 will push 45 million globally into food insecurity; the govt must take immediate steps to address this
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates Covid-19 to have pushed nearly 45 million across the globe into acute food insecurity. More than two-thirds of the 45 million are from South and South East Asia, while the remainder are from sub-Saharan Africa. FAO also cites a $8.5 trillion loss to the global economy over the next two years—this most certainly will exacerbate low- and middle-income countries’ problems in trying to address the food requirements of their populations.
Over 49 million will fall into extreme poverty. Lost livelihoods, coupled with disruption in markets and supply-chains for food, will pose significant risks to food availability and security in some of the poorest regions of the world. Even before the pandemic more than 820 million had been identified as chronically food insecure last year.
Against such a backdrop, the government’s ration card portability move is a significant step forward, but not enough. It has to ensure that the food entitlements under the law reach beneficiaries, and lack of Aadhaar authentication due to whatever reasons doesn’t become a hurdle to access. The FAO recommends cash-based assistance to the most vulnerable, apart from linking with food distribution, so that they don’t fall through the gaps in implementation. Disruptions that affect food availability need to be curtailed. Without such measures, there will be more pain from the pandemic than that brought about by people getting infected.