Will COVID-19 lead to global famine

Around 0.3 million people can starve daily over three months in the absence of the aid, says UN report

Published: Wednesday 22 April 2020

The world can face a famine due to the novel coronavirus diesease (COVID-19) pandemic, according to the United Nation’s The Global Report on Food Crises, 2020. The report asks all countries to act with urgency to avoid a hunger emergency.

The countries’ national health systems are already over-stretched, with an alarming dearth of equipment, medicines and trained staff. The World Food Programme (WFP) is providing resources to nearly 100 million people.

Around 0.3 million people can starve daily over three months in the absence of the aid. The report says some 265 million are on the brink of starvation — nearly double the 135 million the previous year. Nearly 130 million were added to the list due to COVID-19.

Countries where people are most at risk of hunger include:

  • Yemen
  • The Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Afghanistan
  • Venezuela
  • Ethiopia
  • South Sudan
  • Sudan
  • Syria
  • Nigeria
  • Haiti

The first three in the list accounted for a third of those facing a food crisis. In South Sudan, 61 per cent were affected. 

People in food crises often have higher rates of underlying health conditions, including non-communicable diseases and malnutrition (acute, chronic and micronutrient deficiencies). This weakens their immune system and increases the risk of developing severe COVID-19 symptoms.

From 2016-2018, WFP constantly increased the funds to aid the food crisis. It went from $5.3 billlion in 2016 to $6.5 billion in 2018. But this year, they have requested the world leaders to raise an additional two billion to provide resources for the countries vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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