ROME – The COVID-19 pandemic could almost double the number of people suffering acute hunger, pushing it to more than a quarter of a billion by the end of 2020, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has warned.
In a report released on Tuesday, April 21, WFP said that the number of people facing acute food insecurity stands to rise to 265 million in 2020, up by 130 million from the 135 million in 2019, as a result of the economic impact of COVID-19.
“In this context, it is vital that food assistance programme be maintained, including WFP’s own programmes which offer a lifeline to almost 100 million vulnerable people globally,” the statement reads in part.
WFP’s Senior Economist, Arif Husain said: “COVID-19 is potentially catastrophic for millions who are already hanging by a thread. It is a hammer blow for millions more who can only eat if they earn a wage. Lockdowns and global economic recession have already decimated their nest eggs. It only takes one more shock – like COVID-19 – to push them over the edge. We must collectively act now to mitigate the impact of this global catastrophe.”
WFP said that the people likely to suffer most are in low and middle-income countries.
According to the Global Report on Food Crises, majority of people suffering acute food insecurity in 2019 were in countries affected by conflict (77 million), climate change (34 million) and economic crises (24 million people). 10 countries constituted the worst food crises in 2019: Yemen, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Afghanistan, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), Ethiopia, South Sudan, Syria, the Sudan, Nigeria and Haiti, the report states.
It adds that SouthSudan had 61 percent of its population in a state of food crisis (or worse) in 2019. Six other countries also had at least 35 percent of their populations in a state of food crisis: Sudan, Yemen, Central African Republic, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan, Syrian Arab Republic and Haiti. These ten countries accounted for 66 percent of the total population in Crisis or worse (IPC/CH Phase 3 or above) or 88 million people.