Governments have been urged to act fast, as the UN warns the Covid-19 pandemic could spark a global food crisis worse than anything we have seen for at least 50 years.
The “impending global food emergency” could impact nearly 50 million children and adults as the virus already threatens our stressed supply chain, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned.
“Our food systems are failing, and the Covid-19 pandemic is making things worse,” said Guterres in a statement accompanying a UN report.
“More than 820 million people are hungry,” he said. “Some 144 million children under the age of five are stunted –- more than one in five children worldwide. This year, some 49 million extra people may fall into extreme poverty due to the COVID-19 crisis.
“The number of people who are acutely food or nutrition insecure will rapidly expand,” he continued.
“Unless immediate action is taken, it is increasingly clear that there is an impending global food emergency that could have long term impacts on hundreds of millions of children and adults.”
Guterres called for improved social protections for those living in poverty, as concerns mount for basic nutritional welfare amid the pandemic. He encouraged the international community to “mobilise to save lives and livelihoods, focusing attention where the risk is most acute.”
“That means designating food and nutrition services as essential, while implementing appropriate protections for food workers,” he said.
“It means preserving critical humanitarian food, livelihood and nutrition assistance to vulnerable groups,” he said. “And it means positioning food in food-crisis countries to reinforce and scale up social protection systems.”