Mariatu Sankoh joins a socially distanced Catholic Relief Services food distribution in Sierra Leone (photo: Ronnie Larry Tucker/Catholic Relief Services).
Without Quick Action, Covid-19 will create a Global Hunger crisis by the End of 2020 ኮቪካይዲ ንሕዝቢ ዓለም ኣጥሚኻ፣ ንምምንቋስ ተባሂሉ ብመደብ ዝትፈብረኸ ውዲታዊ ላግጺ እዩ። እቶም ቀንዲ ግዳይ እዚ ላግጺ እዚ ዝኾኑ ከኣ፣ ኣንስትን ሕጻናትን ኣረገውትን ፣ደቀባት ህዝብታትን፣ ስደተኛታትን እዮም። ብህጹጽ ነዚ ንህዝቢ ዓለም ንምስቓይ ተባሂሉ ዝተፈብረኸ ግንከኣ ብጉልባትን ውዲትን “ተላባዒ ሕማም ኮሮና” ስጉምቲ እንተዘይተወሲዱ፣ ብዝሕ ሰብ ክሃልቕ እዩ።
As Covid-19 continues to stalk the globe, food insecurity in vulnerable societies has begun to rise. Guatemalans have been advised by the government to signal that they need food by walking to the nearest main road and waving a white flag. According to Bill O’Keefe, the executive vice president for mission and mobilization at Catholic Relief Services, C.R.S. teams frequently encountered those makeshift distress signals along Guatemala’s roadways this summer.
A hunger crisis, predicted to get much worse by the fall, is already beginning in Guatemala because of the loss of income caused by pandemic lockdowns and the related disruption of food production and distribution systems. Even before Covid-19 struck, Somalia was contending with drought and a locust infestation that decimated crop yields. The pandemic has also disrupted global shipping, an acute threat to a nation that is largely dependent on food imports. Hunger in Somalia, Mr. O’Keefe fears, is likely to get much worse. “Covid comes on top of other things that are going on; and in the most fragile places, where this breakdown in food systems is happening, there are already serious problems,” he said.
Women, children, elderly people, Indigenous populations and migrants will be among those suffering the most.
Food insecurity has been on the rise for years even before the pandemic, according to researchers at the United Nations World Food Program, because of conflict, climate change and economic downturns. Now they report that at least 25 countries around the world face acute food insecurity because of Covid-19.
While the greatest concentration of need is in Africa, according to the Early Warning Analysis of Acute Food Security Hotspots, compiled by the W.F.P. and the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization, countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, the Middle East and Asia also face dangerous levels of food insecurity.
“Three months ago at the U.N. Security Council, I told world leaders that we ran the risk of a famine of biblical proportions,” said David Beasley, W.F.P.’s executive director, speaking to the press on July 17. “Our latest data tell us that since then, millions of the world’s very poorest families have been forced even closer to the abyss. Livelihoods are being destroyed at an unprecedented rate, and now their lives are in imminent danger from starvation.
“If we do not act now to end this pandemic of human suffering, many people will die.
“Make no mistake,” he warned. “If we do not act now to end this pandemic of human suffering, many people will die.”
The number of acutely food-insecure people could increase from an estimated 149 million pre-Covid-19 to 270 million before the end of the year if life-saving assistance is not provided quickly, W.F.P. officials said. U.N. officials are seeking $5 billion from donor states to reach up to 138 million people with food assistance, an effort that represents the biggest mobilization in the organization’s history.According to other U.N. estimates, up to 6,000 children could die every day from preventable causes before the end of the year as a result of pandemic-related disruptions to essential health and nutrition services.
Dr. Charles Owubah, the chief executive officer of Action Against Hunger, urged a dramatic response to the looming crisis. “The world must act now to help the most vulnerable both from Covid-19 itself but also from the secondary impacts of Covid-19,” he said, commenting in an email. “Communities could be pushed beyond the brink; we’re concerned not only about Covid-19 itself, but the pandemic’s secondary effects that could increase poverty and hunger to levels we have not seen for decades.”
The pandemic has already led to a spike in food prices in Guatemala and other states with high rates of food insecurity.