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In a new report launched today, Action Against Hunger is strongly concerned by the upcoming hunger crisis generated by the COVID-19 pandemic in States whose systems are already weakened by conflicts, climate hazards and poverty. ACF calls on the relevant authorities to recognize the scale of the crisis and take firm commitments to limit the damage of the upcoming food and nutrition disaster.
he COVID-19 pandemic is a global crisis with far reaching social and economic implications, which exacerbate various forms of vulnerability and is leading to the deterioration of food security. According to the World Food Program (WFP) the impact of the COVID-19 pandemics may push 135 million people into severe food insecurity, in addition to the existing 821 million individuals who were already recorded as food insecure in 2019 by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
« The situation is already worsening in many parts of the world where ACF teams are intervening and we fear that we will reach in the near future the unprecedented figure of one billion people suffering from hunger, » alerted Pierre Micheletti, President of Action Against Hunger in France.
While acknowledging government’s efforts to limit the spread of the COVID-19 pandemics, ACF observed that restrictions of movements, border and market closures had a strong collateral impact on the already fragile livelihoods. The pandemic is leading to an overall reduction in access to basic services, trade and affects food availability, access to food supply and price stability.
In Pakistan, unusually high food prices linked to border closures, road closures and panic buying, caused by COVID-19, further exacerbate food access issues of vulnerable households already living below the poverty line. Food commodity prices of wheat and wheat flour are increasing by 4.9% and 8.4%. Nearly 6.9 million households claim to have reduced the number or size of meals for some family members to cover their household’s basic needs. In Pakistan, the lockdown measures also significantly decreased daily labour opportunities, reducing household purchasing power. Pakistan has a labor force of 63 million out of which 46 million people are employed in the informal sector and are most at risk.
The situation is also particularly worrying in West and Central Africa where 19 million people could become food insecure between June and August 2020 due to the ongoing crisis, conflicts and structural issues. According to estimations, these figures could reach 50 million people because of the impacts of the pandemic. The effects of COVID-19 on already stretched health systems, social protection systems and precarious livelihoods could result in more people suffering of the consequences of hunger.
« In this context, all countries should strengthen their current health and social protection systems and rethink their current agricultural model and food systems. It is crucial to develop sustainable practices such as agroecology and to support local farmers and markets to ensure accessible, safe, affordable, nutritious and healthy food for all. The application of these models, preserving biodiversity and well-functioning ecosystems, are the sine qua non condition to prevent future crises, » explained Jean-François Riffaud, CEO of Action Against Hunger in France.
In the report launched today gathering evidences of impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable population across more than 25 countries, ACF has identified three main areas of actions to avoid a rise of hunger. They aim at supporting the COVID-19 response to the current humanitarian crisis, and further mitigating future risks in terms of food security in case of new global shocks as new pandemic, climate change or major conflict.
Governments must take firm commitments to address collectively this unprecedented challenge. This should include lifting all restrictions to humanitarian aid, guaranteeing access to basic services and food security for all and building more resilient health and food systems in the long-run to prevent crises. With the mobilization that followed the 2008 food riots in mind, national actions and global initiatives should be taken now: Action Against Hunger urges heads of government to take leadership on the matter and calls on a high-level mobilization event to tackle these three aspects and crystallize major political and financial commitments.
Action Against Hunger, created in 1979, is an international non-governmental organization fighting against hunger in the world. Its mission is to save lives by eliminating hunger through the prevention, detection and treatment of undernutrition, particularly during and after emergencies related to conflicts and natural disasters. Today, Action Against Hunger is a major player in the fight against hunger in the world. Structured as an international network, the organization leads a coordinated response in nearly 50 countries and launched last month in France, Germany, Canada and Italy the campaign #HungerPandemic to reinforce general public awareness on the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on the food security of the world’s precarious situation.