The COVID-19 pandemic could spark the worst global food crisis in fifty years, according to a new report from the UN.
Antonio Guterres, Director-General of the UN, warns that this “impending” global food emergency could impact almost 50 million children and adults.
“Our food systems are failing, and the Covid-19 pandemic is making things worse,” Guterres said in a statement accompanying the report.
“More than 820 million people are hungry. 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.”
In offering a means of combatting the looming crisis, Mr 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.
“And it means positioning food in food-crisis countries to reinforce and scale up social protection systems.”