Before the new coronavirus became a global pandemic, over 135 million people went to bed with chronic hunger each year. The aftermath of COVID-19 could add another 130 million to that figure.
The WFP – the food program from the United Nations – says that it needs at least $12 billion more in funding to provide emergency assistance to people in need.
Reduced travel capabilities, falling remittances, and lost hospitality revenues are all contributing factors to this issue. Unless fast action gets taken to stop this problem, the families living hand-to-mouth today may need to sell the few assets they currently have to have food. That means it could take several years to achieve self-reliance once again.
Farmers Are Already Selling Oxen and Plows
The people that the world needs to be most concerned about are those that live in nations were safety nets are rarely available. It places the responsibility for acquiring food on the workers or programs like the WFP to meet basic needs.
That means farmers get left with a terrible choice. Do they go hungry so that they can keep their equipment and livestock, or do they sell their oxen and plows to meet their short-term needs today?
The United Nations has a five-category rating system that gauges the availability of food in the general population. A Category 5 issue translates to mass starvation. In the aftermath of COVID-19, many countries in Africa found themselves at a Category 3 rating, which means they have a critical lack of food access and more malnutrition than usual.
How to Fight the Hunger Crisis
Only two things are needed to stop the developing hunger crisis from the coronavirus: understanding and action. The world needs people to influence public policy, work directly with the families in need, and provide financial contributions.
Millions are already in a position where they are entirely reliant on food aid to meet their daily needs. If conflict, famine, and drought continue to affect critical areas of agricultural production, then this issue will keep growing. In some areas, such as Africa, locust swarms are adding to these issues.
Hunger impacts the wealthy countries of our planet, with up to 20% of households managing food insecurity.
Although COVID-19 creates a lot of fear and uncertainty, it is also giving us time to focus on change. By taking care of each other, we can build a planet where everyone can go to bed each night without worry about having enough food to eat.