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Global Report on Food Crises reveals scope of food crises as COVID-19 poses new risks to vulnerable countries

  |   SUN Country Network, SUN UN Network

The 2020 edition of The Global Report on Food Crises describes the scale of acute hunger in the world. It provides an analysis of the drivers that are contributing to food crises across the globe, and examines how the COVID-19 pandemic might contribute to their perpetuation or deterioration. The report is produced by the Global Network against Food Crises, an international alliance working to address the root causes of extreme hunger.

The report indicates that at the close of 2019, 135 million people across 55 countries and territories experienced acute food insecurity. Additionally, in the 55 food-crisis countries covered by the report, 75 million children were stunted and 17 million suffered from wasting in 2019.

This is the highest level of acute food insecurity and malnutrition documented by the Network since the first edition of the report in 2017.

Key findings

Additionally, in 2019, 183 million people were classified in Stressed (IPC/CH Phase 2) condition — at the cusp of acute hunger and at risk of slipping into Crisis or worse (IPC/CH Phase 3 or above) if faced with a shock or stressor, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than half (73 million) of the 135 million people covered by the report live in Africa; 43 million live in the Middle East and Asia; 18.5 million live in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The key drivers behind the trends analysed in the report were: conflict, (the key factor that pushed 77 million people into acutefood insecurity), weather extremes (34 million people) and economic turbulence (24 million).

An estimated 75 million stunted children were living in the 55 food-crisis countries analysed. These children have limited access to sufficient dietary energy, nutritionally diverse diets, clean drinking water, sanitation and health care, which weakens their health and nutrition status, with dire consequences for their development and long-term productivity.

 

COVID-19 and its effects

The acute food insecurity forecasts for 2020 were produced before COVID-19 became a pandemic and do not account for its likely impact in food crisis countries.

The pandemic may well devastate livelihoods and food security, especially in fragile contexts and particularly for the most vulnerable people working in the informal agricultural and nonagricultural sectors. A global recession will majorly disrupt food supply chains.

The drivers of food crises, as well as lack of access to dietary energy and diversity, safe water, sanitation and health care will continue to create high levels of child malnutrition, while COVID-19 is likely to overburden health systems.

While COVID-19 does not discriminate, the 55 countries and territories that are home to 135 million acutely food-insecure people in need of urgent humanitarian food and nutrition assistance are the most vulnerable to the consequences of this pandemic as they have very limited or no capacity to cope with either the health or socioeconomic aspects of the shock.

These countries may face an excruciating trade-off between saving lives or livelihoods or, in a worst-case scenario, saving people from the corona virus to have them die from hunger. To prevent these tens of millions of people already facing food crises from succumbing to the virus or to its economic consequences, all actors need to mobilize and coordinate along a set of operational and strategic priorities.

Global Report on Food Crisis

• Download the report – English

• GRFC – Interactive version

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