The number of people on the brink of famine could nearly double by the end of 2020 due to the new coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
“The lives and livelihoods of 265 million people in low and middle-income countries will be under severe threat unless swift action is taken to tackle the pandemic,” said the World Food Programme (WFP) on Tuesday.
“That is nearly double the number in the newly published Global Report on Food Crises 2020, which estimates that 135 million people in 55 countries currently face acute hunger,” the WFP said. This report was drawn up before the onset of the coronavirus crisis. “The contrasting figures provide a startling insight into the devastating potential of this virus,” the WFP said.
“People who needed help are going to need help for longer and new people are going to be food insecure because of Covid-19,” senior WFP economist Arif Husain told AFP.
“The greatest worry is for people living in conflict zones and those forced from their homes and into refugee camps,” according to the WFP.
“The scenario in poor countries is too gruesome to comprehend,” Husain said in the WFP report. “People are losing their livelihoods and their incomes and, at the same time, supply chains are disrupted. This translates into a double whammy which has both the breadth and the depth of hunger increasing around the world.”
WFP will expand its “real-time, remote food-security monitoring in several countries, to assess how supply chains are functioning and monitor households’ access to health care,” they said.
They are also “assessing where cash transfers can be distributed electronically in areas where food is readily available.”
“Other measures include pre-positioning food closest to those most in need — while supply chains are still working — providing double rations to reduce the number of distributions, providing take-home rations to replace school meals, and launching health-education campaigns,” WFP said.